Foxboro’s Magical Ride Ends In D3 State Semifinals

Foxboro baseball Mike Marcucella
Foxboro freshman catcher Mike Marcucella applies the tag for the out at first down after a rundown in the fourth inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 LOWELL, Mass. — Foxboro’s memorable postseason run came to an end in the Division 3 state semifinals, but not before putting a scare into top-seeded and undefeated Austin Prep.

After winning its first two playoff games in dramatic fashion on walk-off home runs, and belting out six triples in a 14-run explosion to upset Bishop Stang, the Warriors still had a little magic left in an upset bid against the Cougars.

After being no-hit for the first five innings by University of Virginia commit Evan Blanco, Foxboro feasted against Austin Prep’s bullpen. Trailing 6-0, freshman Mike Marcucella ignited the offense with a leadoff single through the right side. Senior Jack Watts followed with a double and junior Ryan LeClair earned a walk to load the bases with no outs.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Junior Sean O’Leary ripped a single to right to bring two runs in and that was enough for Austin Prep to put Blanco back on the mound. Since Blanco moved to left and stayed in the lineup, he was able to take the mound again.

After Blanco got one of his 13 strikeouts for the game, sophomore Tyler Prescott got Foxboro’s first hit off of Blanco with a single to center to score LeClair, and both O’Leary and Prescott moved up after the ball eluded the center fielder. A ground out from Liam Mulkern brought in another run to cut the deficit to 6-4, and just like that, Foxboro had the tying run at the plate.

Blanco induced a grounder for the final out of the sixth though, and then came back to strike out the side in the seventh to secure a spot in the D3 Final with a 6-4 win, ending Foxboro’s season at 16-8.

“You can never count our guys out,” said Foxboro head coach Derek Suess. “We got a few things going, Mikey Marcucella gets us going with a base hit after we were no-hit up to that point. All I could ask for is for them to battle each pitch, and for every opportunity we get and see what happens. They lit a little bit of a fire, had a little magic there…in the end, the better team won but I’ll take my guys any day of the week because they just fight their ass off, all seven innings for 21 outs, and you really can’t ask for more.”

Even with Blanco on the mound, the Warriors facing a two-run deficit, and just three outs left, Foxboro was full of optimism. The Warriors used back-to-back home runs from LeClair and O’Leary to stun Saugus in the opening round, and then Mulkern erased a one-run deficit in the second round with a walk-off two-run home run.

And to add to the momentum, O’Leary had just worked around a one-out single, and two base runners after an interference call, ending the inning with a terrific defensive play off the mound for the third out.

But there’s a reason the Cougars haven’t lost a game all year, and Blanc slammed the door shut to deny Foxboro another magical moment.

“I don’t think anyone thought this was going to happen this year,” Suess said. “In years past, we haven’t been a really strong team. These seniors, we have five of them [Kyle Smith, Jack Watts, Tom Marcucella, Drew Peterson, Liam Mulkern], they were our leaders and came through in the clutch when we needed them to and they set the tone for the rest of the team. For us to make a run, I’m so happy for those guys to be able to experience this because it doesn’t happen very often. I told them to soak in the whole experience while we’re here, win or lose, this is a great opportunity for our program. And these guys made a lot of people proud in the stands, at home, and in the community.

“I think they’ve proved it that we don’t just rely on one or two guys. It’s about one through nine, everyone in the lineup. When you get your opportunity, make the most of it. Everyone contributed this year and helped us win 16 games, I mean that’s quite impressive. It’s all the hard work they’ve put in, the camaraderie, and they’ve all bought in today and I couldn’t ask for more, I’m just so proud of them.”

O’Leary battled from the start and didn’t stop, tossing all six innings. He allowed six hits — only three in the final five innings — and walked four with six strikeouts.

Prep took the lead in the first, a one-out single from Zawatsky was followed by an RBI base hit from Will Burns and the Cougars had a quick 1-0 lead. AP had a two-out single too but O’Leary got a big strikeout to end the first.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Cougars doubled their lead in the third without getting a hit. An infield error allowed a runner to reach and then he went to third after a throwing error on a stolen base. A ground out brought the run home to make it 2-0 after three innings.

Austin Prep created separation with four runs in the fourth inning, taking advantage of a leadoff walk and a triple from Brendan Walsh early for a 3-0 lead. After a strikeout for the second out, AP drew another walk and a wild pitch brought a run home. A two-out single from Zawatsky extended the lead to 6-0. O’Leary caught his second runner on the base paths for the third out.

“He didn’t want to [come out], he’s an absolute animal,” Suess said of O’Leary. “He wants the baseball, any opportunity there is. He wants to be up at the plate at the toughest times. I can’t ask for a better leader and for him to only be a junior and to be back next year is comforting. We could have taken him out and gone with someone else but he’s our best guy. They have an all-around good offense and he really pitched his ass off.”

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Taunton returns a strong group of players looking to challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2021 Record: 5-11
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Dunlea
With a good mix of new faces and experienced veterans, Attleboro is aiming to be in the mix of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. For the Bombardiers, it will lean heavily on a deep pitching staff.

It starts with seniors Billy Saltmarsh, who is committed to UMass Dartmouth, and Cian Kelleher, who is committed to Stonehill. They’ll be joined in the rotation by junior lefty Danny Johnson while senior Jamie Bloch and junior Sean O’Hara lend strength to the relief corps. Sophomore Matt Harvie, sophomore Johnny Pagano, and freshman Tyler Dunlea will also be in the mix to see innings on the mound.

Senior captain Owen Taber (UMass Dartmouth) will be an anchor of the Bombardier defense at second base while juniors Peter DelPozzo and Cooper Johnson, along with Pagano, look to fill in at shortstop as senior captain Evan Houle works his way back from an injury from basketball season. Johnson, DelPozzo, and Dunlea are in the mix for the starting job at third while Bloch (committed to UMaine Farmington) and Christian Dame provide depth at first base.

In the outfield, senior Nate George will cover a lot of ground from his spot in centerfield, and the Bombardiers will rotate between Parket Sacket, Hayden Hagerty, Ben Hochwarter, Danny Johnson, Brody McKenna, and Harvie for the other two outfielder spots. Junior Aidan Hochwarter provides a steady presence both at the dish and behind the plate at catcher.

“The strength of this team is its chemistry,” said Attleboro head coach Steve Dunlea. “We have a great group of returning players who have really worked hard to build a team bond through the pandemic. I give a lot of credit to the captains from last year and this year. Despite the challenges they faced with COVID, they were able to rebuild the chemistry of the Attleboro baseball program that was lost when the 2020 season was canceled.”

Canton

2021 Record: 8-7
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Ben Shuffain
Canton got off to a great start to the 2021 campaign, winning six of their first seven games but ended up with a first-round exit in the playoffs. With a strong core of returning players plus a couple of promising young players, the Bulldogs are aiming to get back to the postseason again this season.

The Bulldogs certainly have some holes to fill with the loss of a talented senior class and the departure of ace Andrew Middleton. Fourth-year head coach Ben Shuffain will lean on captains Andy Butler and Matt Chafin to lead the charge this season, along with three-year players Nico Bonanno, Matt Quan, and Zach Peters. Chafin was one of the best offensive players in the league last year, finishing second with a 0.442 average.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Shuffain has a lot of options for pitching, with at least a dozen choices to fill out the rotation and relief corps. Jay Kelleher, Hayden Rose, and Owen Lane will all be in the mix for innings on the mound. Matty Lesser, James Young, Jack Digirolomo, and freshman Kyle Redquest will work the infield while the catching duties will fall to Sean Sullivan and Matt Hart.

“We are a very experienced team with a lot of guys with a lot of innings pitched from last season and wins under their belt,” Shuffain said. “With a few of last year’s backups moving into starting roles and the addition of a few younger guys and the experienced upperclassmen this team should have a good season as they will continue to work hard on the field and in the weight room.”







Foxboro

2021 Record: 5-10
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro has some of the top returning talents in the league but will look for some of its younger players to provide the depth needed to compete for a division title this season.

Junior captain Sean O’Leary is one of the top arms in the league and has a lot of varsity experience under his belt already. He will be the ace of the staff that will also feature junior Mathieu Sullivan, who made his varsity debut last season, and freshman Nolan Gordon, who has impressed during the preseason. Pitching depth will come from seniors Andrew Peterson, Tom Marcucella, Liam Mulkern, and junior Alex Stern.

Senior captain Tom Marcucella is one of the most experienced players in the league and his versatility gives head coach Derek Suess a lot of options in the infield. Marcucella can play at any of the four infield spots but will spend the majority of his time at first base. Junior Ryan LeClair is back in the mix at shortstop after a breakout season a year ago, sophomore Tyler Prescott is back for his second year with the squad, and freshman Ryan O’Leary offers a solid bat and glove. Senior Kyle Smith and junior Josh Connolly provide solid depth in the infield.

Senior captain and three-sport star Jack Watts will patrol center field for the Warriors and will be flanked by juniors Kenny Mello and Louis Carangelo, all three looking to make an impact with their bats this season. When not pitching, Gordon will also be in the mix for some innings in the outfield and sophomore Shane Henri gives Suess another solid option. Mulkern is the starting catcher with freshmen Ben Angelini and Mike Marcucella in the mix as well.

“We have great leadership from our captains and upperclassmen which has set the tone for the rest of our guys,” Suess said. “The underclassmen have bought in and can contribute right away. We must embrace the daunting challenge of playing in the Hock, and compete with confidence to give ourselves the best chance to reach our goals.”

Franklin

2021 Record: 16-2
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Zach Brown
Franklin graduated some of the best players in the league after last season, but the Panthers still have a loaded lineup and a deep and talented pitching staff that could result in a very deep playoff run.

Not many teams could lose one of the best hitters in the league (Nate Cooke, 0.429) and one of the best catchers in the league (Jake Fitzgibbons, 0.353) and still boast one of the best lineups in the league but that’s how deep the Panthers are. Jack Marino, Ben Jarosz, and Chris Goode were all among the league leaders offensively a season ago, and Franklin also has sophomore Henry Digiorgio and junior Eisig Chin back after picking up a year of varsity experience. Junior Ryan Gerety, a Northeastern commit, is one of the best fielders in the region and is very dangerous at the plate.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

And after surrendering a league-low 40 runs last season, Franklin returns its entire rotation. Jacob Jette had a great junior season and will be one of the best pitchers in the Hock while junior Alfred Mucciarone will look to build upon a solid sophomore campaign. Relievers James Kuczmiec and Ethan Voellmicke dominated last season, coming in time after time and shutting opponents down.




King Philip

2021 Record: 8-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Jeff Plympton, Jr.
It was a good start for head coach Jeff Plympton as the Warriors won eight games last season and went to the playoffs, bowing out to eventual state champions Xaverian.

King Philip has the majority of its lineup back and will be looking to make some noise in a very competitive Kelley-Rex division. After averaging almost five runs a game last year, the Warriors have some key bats back in the lineup this year. Senior Shawn Legere is a returning league all star that starts at shortstop and is coming off a season in which he hit 0.386 and scored a league-best 16 runs. Rudy Gately had a breakout sophomore season and will be a key bat in the lineup again this year.

Gately will also be a go-to option on the mound for Plympton after going 4-0 last season, striking out 33 in 34.1 innings of work with an impressive 1.03 ERA. Tommy Martorano also gained a lot of experience last year as a sophomore and will give the Warriors a solid 1-2 punch for its starting rotation.

“We have a lot of arms to roll out if we need them which is great,” Plympton said. “Shawn Legere provides great leadership to the team and demands hard work at practice and games. Our fielding should be strong this year but I’m looking forward to watching our offense. Last year we struggled at the plate but this year looks promising. Last season we notched our first playoff win in over a decade and we look to keep those strides moving forward this year.”

Mansfield

2021 Record: 8-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Chris Hall
With a talented and experienced pitching staff and a list of players eager to make a name for themselves at the dish, Mansfield enters the season with the goal of challenging for the Kelley-Rex division title.

The Hornets were young last spring, and a lot of players earned their first varsity starts on the mound and at-bats. Mansfield has the majority of its team back and will be looking to turn that valuable experience into a successful 2022 campaign. They certainly aren’t shying away from testing that talent with defending state champions Xaverian, Maryland powerhouse Archbishop Spalding, and other top teams on its schedule along with a loaded Hock schedule.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Seniors Anthony Sacchetti, Aaron Blinn, Jimmy Gilleran, and Colby Geddis highlight a deep and talented pitching staff for the Hornets. All of those arms got their feet wet during last year’s season and now give head coach Chris Hall a lot of flexibility with his rotation. There won’t be a drop off as the games go on with four solid options.

The big challenge for the Hornets a season ago was offense, scoring a division low 57 runs. With a strong offseason under their belts, there are a lot of names eager to step up and improve that number. Sacchetti, Gilleran, Geddis, and classmates Andrew Slaney and Jared Fraone will try to lead the way while juniors Conner Zukowski, Sam Martin, Caden Colby, Aidan Jones, and Rocco Scarpellini are all in the mix. Sophomores Connor Curtis and Jake Maydak both played varsity last year and could be impact players right away. Behind the dish, Aidan Jones and Wyatt Bolduc are battling for the starting spot at catcher after the Hornets lost senior Liam Anastasia to an injury.

“The keys to success this season rely heavily on every player doing their job,” Hall said. “The Hornets bring a well-rounded roster to the table and expect to compete all season long. Pitching and defense continue to be a strength for the Hornets. Offensively, the Hornets look to use a variety of talent to score runs and win baseball games.”

Milford

2021 Record: 5-9
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Alex Dion
There were some growing pains for the Hawks a season ago with a young squad, but with just five players graduated from a year ago, the Hawks are hoping to be a contender in a deep Kelley-Rex division.

Head coach Alex Dion plans to get contributions from all four classes this season, starting with a strong group of seniors that cover the field. Tyler Lane and Grant Scudo will see time in the outfield, Justin Luchini mans first base, Alex McColl can play in a number of spots in the infield, Cole Forrest is a versatile weapon, and John Denegris is an option on the mound.

The rotation will be anchored by junior Evan Cornelius, junior Tyler Caldon, and sophomore Anthony LaPierre. Cornelius started every game for the Hawks last season and will play at first when he’s not on the mound. Caldon and LaPierre, both right-handed pitchers, are up from the JV squad and have impressed in the early going.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Offensively, sophomore Keith Lee picked up valuable experience after starting nine games as a freshman last season. He will start behind the dish and be one of the most important bats in the lineup. Sophomores Damien Carter and Sean McGee also started last season and will make up Milford’s middle infield.

“I am excited about the potential that this group has,” Dion said. “With strong senior leadership and varsity players in all four grades we have an opportunity to compete this year and for years to come. This is a great league and I have a lot of respect for the other teams in it. It starts on the mound and if we can get quality pitching out of the arms that we have here we have a chance to compete. We will have to win games in a variety of ways and I believe that we have the athletes to do that.”




North Attleboro

2021 Record: 12-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Mike Hart
After splitting the division title a season ago, the Rocketeers enter the 2022 campaign with a chance at winning back-to-back division titles for the first time in 30 years.

Replacing ace Dennis Colleran won’t be easy but North Attleboro has some solid arms on the mound including senior Danny Curran and senior David Floyd, who missed last season. Curran went 2-0 last year and struck out 22 in 23 innings of work with a 3.65 ERA. Head coach Mike Hart also has pitching options in senior Anthony Wescott, and juniors Jordan Paradis, Derek Maceda, and Ayden Delaney.

One of the big reasons the Rocketeers had such success last season was their offense, which scored a Davenport division 110 runs. Maceda was one of the best bats in the league and will patrol the outfield for the Big Red along with Curran, Paradis, and senior Christian Bates. In the infield, Floyd will be joined by classmates Brody Rosenberg, Gavin Wells, and Nik Kojoian, and senior Tyler Bannon will patrol shortstop. Junior Aidan Conrad had a breakout season starting behind the dish a year ago.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

“We’re going to look to put a lot of pressure on other teams offensively,” Hart said. “We have many capable pitchers who can provide quality innings. We feel our defense will limit mistakes and not give many runs away. If we want to have a successful season we will need contributions from everybody on the roster on a daily basis. We will rely on our senior leadership and experience to guide us through the season. We need guys to excel in their role and focus on the job at hand.”

Oliver Ames

2021 Record: 9-6
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Joe Abarr
After earning a share of the Davenport title last season, the Tigers have the pieces in place to make another run at the division crown this year.

A combination of veterans and new faces eager to make an impression gives head coach Joe Abarr a nice mix to work with. Offensively, the Tigers will look for their senior captains to lead the way. Jake Waxman will play first base and potentially some outfield and is one of the best bats in the Hockomock League while Joe Cicchetti could also see time at first as well as the outfield, and is a strong two-way player. Patrick Finnerty is back in the mix after a strong junior season.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

On the mound, OA has a pair of lefties at the top of the rotation. Nick Clark (3-0, 2.78, 32K) and Jack Richardson (2-2, 2.07, 21K) are both coming off great junior seasons and will give the Tigers a solid 1-2 punch on the mound this year. Richardson will also see time in the outfield and will be a key piece of the lineup offensively.

“We have a good mix of returners and young talented players looking for opportunities to help our team win,” Abarr said. “We are excited for a full ‘normal’ season back in the Hock.”

Sharon

2021 Record: 3-12
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Andrew Poliferno
Sharon enters the season with a roster eager to compete among the Hockomock League’s top teams, but the Eagles will have to do so all on the road this season. With the construction of the new high school currently underway where Sharon’s field was, it will be all road trips for the Eagles this season.

It will start with the 10 seniors on the team, including captains Dan Okstein and Dylan Labbe. Okstein is back after an injury limited his time a year ago and will be a key piece in the lineup offensively. He will be the anchor of the outfield, playing mostly in left but could also see time in center. Labbe has a ton of varsity experience and will be the ace of the pitching staff this year. Also on the mound returns sophomore Luke Meixel, one of the league’s breakout players last year as a freshman. junior Alex Coughlin, Ryan Baker, Zach Loomis, Jack Broughton, and Okstein will also be in the mix for innings on the mound.

Offensively, Nate Yaffe is back after a great year at the dish a year ago and will take over at shortstop. Not only is Yaffe consistent with the bat, but he’s also very dangerous on the base paths. Another speedy option at the dish will be Palash Raina and the Eagles are hoping to get key contributions at the plate from Okstein and varsity newcomer Connor Blaney. Liam Conway takes over behind the dish and Will Hippler, Owen Kevorkian, Eli Greenfield, Josh Tolentino, and Jake Loomis are all in the mix for spots in the lineup as well.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

“As a second-year varsity coach, I couldn’t be prouder to see how ready our players are to play their 2022 season,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Poliferno. “It is evident our players worked hard during the off-season to prepare to compete in the Hockomock. Our players are gritty, determined, and not afraid to put in the hard work that it takes to improve. In addition to their drive to succeed, the team vibe is positive and players go out of their way to encourage one another. I believe we have the makings of a very talented and passionate group of players ready to make noise for their 2022 season.”

Stoughton

2021 Record: 4-10
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kevin Carty
There will be a lot of new faces in the Stoughton lineup this season, and that goes for the dugout too as Kevin Carty takes over for Mike Armour, who was the longest-tenured coach in the Hockomock League.

Carty is going to lean heavily on his seniors, who make up over half of the Knights’ roster. There is a lot of versatility among the senior class as well with players like Joe McNulty and Jonah Ly, who could see time in the outfield, the infield, on the mound, and in McNulty’s case, even behind the dish. Brad Franey, Anthony Girolamo, Anthony Tilton, James Price, and Owen Wiesnberger are all seniors that are in the mix for infield spots.

Girolamo, Ly, and Price will be joined by sophomore Will Worsley, junior Jeriel Cuello, junior Sean Farley, junior Joe Rush, and sophomore Hunter Malkin as options on the mound for Carty.

“We have a deep group of seniors that will carry us this year,” Carty said. “These seniors are very athletic and can play anywhere on the field. They have the ability to be great leaders for the younger players. We will go as far as they carry us.”

Taunton

2021 Record: 13-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Blair Bourque
Replacing a league MVP is never an easy task as the Tigers have to do with Danny MacDougall, but Taunton has a lot of depth and a lot of new faces looking to make a name for themselves as they help Taunton challenge for the Kelley-Rex title.

The strength of the 2022 Tigers will be offense and defense. Taunton has already lost some pitchers to injury so it will be a group effort on the mound this season. Coming off a season in which they scored 119 runs (nearly 7 runs a game), the offense will once again be a key component. Dawson Bryce had a breakout year after hitting 0.341 and driving in 12 runs a season ago, and junior Ryan MacDougall is one of the best power hitters in the league.

Seniors Evan Cali, Colby DeCouta, Colin Botelho, and junior Braden Sullivan are all very experienced at the varsity level and head coach Blair Bourque will lean on their leadership this season.

“Unlike in years past, we don’t have any true pitchers; our pitching staff consists of position players who will need to step up and give us an opportunity to compete,” Bourque said.”Offensively, we’ll look to have productive at-bats, be patient, and take advantage of mistakes. We should have one of the more productive offenses Taunton has had in some time. Although we’ll continue to play fundamental baseball, we hope to be able to capitalize when opportunity presents itself.”

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Taunton senior Danny MacDougall, pictured here as a sophomore in 2019, is one of the few returners for the defending D1 State Champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2019 Record: 14-10
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Steve Dunlea

Two years ago, Attleboro made a run to the Div. 1 South final, only to run into league rival and eventual state champ Taunton. While the Bombardiers only return three players with varsity experience, Attleboro will be looking to replicate some of that momentum and challenge the top teams for the Kelley-Rex division title this spring.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Senior catcher Bailey Camacho caught half the innings during his sophomore season and will be the starter this spring, as well as an important presence in the lineup. Seniors Jake Gorman and Matt McMahon will both be part of the rotation and play corner infield spots when they’re not on the mound building off the experience they got two years ago. Senior Cam Foster adds speed at short and will be the closer, while juniors Billy Saltmarsh and Cian Kelleher, and sophomores Dillon James and Danny Johnson are part of what should be a deep staff for the Bombardiers. Speed should also be a strength for Attleboro, including outfielders Ben Hochwarter, Nate George, Hayden Hegarty, and Packer Sackett, and middle infielders Owen Taber and Evan Houle. Junior Christian Dame is a versatile player who can step in at multiple positions.

“We’re excited to get our players out there to see what we can accomplish,” said Attleboro coach Steve Dunlea. “Our guys have worked very hard during the off-season and have come a long way in the past few years. We are particularly proud of our senior leadership. It’s been a tough year and we are so grateful to the MIAA and ADs for making this season happen for our seniors.”

Canton

2019 Record: 6-14
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Ben Shuffain

Canton had a great start to the 2019 season under then first-year head coach Ben Shuffain, including an impressive win over Wellesley. But almost all of the Bulldogs’ wins came in the first half of the season. Now Canton will look to start strong and continue that throughout the year as they look to challenge for the Davenport division title.

The Bulldogs are one of the teams that have a good number of players that played back in 2019 so there is a lot of optimism surrounding the experience on the roster this season. Canton has four starters back for this year’s campaign: shortstop/right-handed pitcher Steve Burbank, outfielder Cam Sanchez, catcher/outfielder Sawyer Julier-Albert, and right-handed pitcher Nate Hewit. Both Burbank (0.328) and Julier-Albert (0.395) were among the league leaders in batting average as sophomores so they will be key pieces for the offense this year. Shuffain will also look for contributions from outfielders Andy Butler and Zach Peters, infielder Nico Bonanno, and utility option Matt Quan — all four could also see time pitching.

Burbank will also see time on the mound and Hewit will be an important piece of the pitching staff this year. Junior Andrew Middleton, who tossed a perfect game in the season-opener, will obviously be a major part of the rotation as well, giving the Bulldogs solid depth. Behind the pitching staff, there will be a lot of players who have experience at the varsity level so Shuffain hopes mistakes will be at a minimum.

“We are lucky to have a good number of players who have varsity experience from 2018 and 2019,” Shuffain said. “They have been preparing for 18 months for this season and this group has tremendous leadership and a ton of talent. I am excited to see what they can do on the field.”

Foxboro

2019 Record: 6-14
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Derek Suess

For the 2021 season, it all starts with pitching for the Foxboro Warriors. The 2019 squad graduated six players, and there were nine juniors on that team that missed out on their senior season a year ago. That means Foxboro has four players coming back for this spring, and almost all picked up a lot of valuable experience the last time out.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Seniors Cam Prescott and Sean Yoest will headline the Warriors’ rotation, bringing a lot of experience to the staff. Prescott logged over 26 innings as a sophomore, allowing just four walks with a 1.86 ERA. Yoest had a lot of success at the plate as a sophomore and will be looking to replicate that on the mound this year. Sophomore Sean O’Leary will likely be a key piece on the mound when fully healthy and the Warriors will look to seniors Dylan Quinn, Mike O’Toole, Ryan Jacobs, and Sebastian Ortiz, as well as juniors Liam Mulkern and Tom Marcucella to provide pitching depth.

Yoest will patrol the outfield when he’s not on the mound and will be a key piece offensively after hitting 0.346 as a sophomore with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI. Yoest will be joined in the outfield by junior Jack Watts, a three-sport athlete who has excelled in golf and hockey, and sophomore Kenny Mello. Marcucella will also see time in the outfield while senior Griffin Morse is a solid depth piece that can play all three spots in the outfield.

Prescott will see time at either third or shortstop when he’s not pitching. Beyond Prescott, the Warriors will have some inexperience around the infield with freshman Tyler Prescott (second base) and sophomore Ryan LeClair (shortstop) impressing early on. Mulkern and O’Toole will provide the infield with some senior leadership from first while Marcucella and Ortiz providing depth. Mulkern will also be an option behind the plate while junior Mike LaVita will step into the starting role at catcher.

“We are excited for the opportunity to get back on the field and compete every day,” head coach Derek Suess said. “Having our top two arms still here is comforting, but we will need contributions from many different guys. We have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen who have bought in to our vision for the season.”

Franklin

2019 Record: 22-3
2019 Finish: Reached Super 8
Coach: Zach Brown

While Franklin won’t be able to make it three straight appearances in the Super 8 with the tournament not happening this year (and possibly for a couple of years), there is something the Panthers can do: defend their Kelley-Rex division title.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

The Panthers were nearly perfect in league action during the 2019 season (15-1) and will be one of the favorites for the title again this year. But it will be almost an entirely new cast of players doing so. Franklin had 10 seniors on that team plus another seven juniors that graduated last year, meaning just a handful of players from the roster are back. Of that group, just one starter is back in senior Jake Fitzgibbons, who played second base at the time.

Now Fitzgibbons moves behind the plate and will be in charge of handling a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. Having him behind the plate should make it easier for the likes of junior Jacob Jette and sophomore Alfred Mucciarone, who figure to be two of the key components of Franklin’s rotation this season. And when needed, Fitzgibbons will switch out from behind the plate and take the mound himself.

Seniors Nate Cooke and CJ Jette serve as captains alongside Fitzgibbons and will provide leadership both on and off the field. Cooke is slated to start at first base and will bring a big bat to the lineup while Jette will see time both in the outfield and at designated hitter. Seniors Luc Boudreau (outfielder) and Nick Quinn (right-handed pitcher) have impressed early on as well.

“As always the cornerstone of our program is pitching and defense,” said head coach Zach Brown. “We believe we have the right mix of athletes and arms to compete daily this season. Offensively, we believe that our line-up can be pretty athletic. Obviously, we are all in the same boat missing last season so it will be an exciting season to get back out onto the field. I know the players and our coaching staff are really excited for the games to start up.”




King Philip

2019 Record: 8-12
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Jeff Plympton

There will be a lot of new faces on the mound, in the field, in the batter’s box, and even on the bench for the King Philip Warriors this season. Looking back at the 2019 season, only one name is back in action for the Warriors this season. And on top of that, there’s a new coach in the dugout in Jeff Plympton.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Both Conor Cooke and Jack Silveria saw plenty of action during their sophomore seasons but Silveria will miss his senior campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That means that Plympton and the rest of the Warriors will lean heavily on Cooke, a three-year starter who will guide KP from behind the plate. Cooke, who is committed to play at Brown University, is a rock behind the plate and that will be important as KP deploys a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. That rotation will feature junior Nick Viscusi and sophomore Rudy Gately, with seniors Jack Mullen, Grayden Lawrence, Harry Brown, and Jake Burns all providing depth.

Cooke will be a key part of the offense as well, slated to hit from the clean up spot. Viscusi will set the tone from the leadoff spot and can cause some damage on the base paths with his speed. Junior Shawn Lagere will start at shortstop and bat third in the lineup, providing the Warriors with some power while Gately will see time at third when he isn’t on the mound. Seniors Ethan Hurwitz and Mikey Malatesta provide outfield depth and Plympton has 10 juniors on the roster to help fill out the lineup.

“Looking forward to getting the season going and watching the team play together,” Plympton said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had high school baseball and most of our guys, like many teams, are new to the varsity level. We have some good talent on our team. Plenty of good throwing arms to get us through the new pitching restrictions. The infield is solid with very dependable fielders around the diamond. The outfield is fast and does a great job tracking fly balls. I believe defense will be our best strength this season. The players have been putting in a lot of hard work during practices.”

Mansfield

2019 Record: 18-7
2019 Finish: Reached Super 8
Coach: Chris Hall

Joe Breen had a very successful run at the helm of the Hornets, and his successor is one that the program is very familiar with. Chris Hall, who served as Breen’s assistant, takes over and is aiming to continue the success that Mansfield has had in recent seasons.

Coming off one of their best seasons in program history that culminated in a second straight Super 8 appearance, the Hornets will try to rebuild their lineup with a strong core of seniors. Eric Sullivan will move into the starting role behind the plate and will be a vocal leader both on and off the field for the Hornets. Three-sport athlete Jack Colby is slated to take over at first base, Luke Urban looks to take over at second base, Ben Mintz can slot into a variety of roles, including in the field or on the mound, and Greg Coyle, the lone returner from the 2019 team, will be an option on the mound for the Hornets. Juniors Jared Fraone and Liam Anastasia will help round out the lineup.

Coyle will be joined by juniors Aaron Blinn, Anthony Sacchetti, and Jimmy Gilleran on the Hornets’ staff. That group brings a lot of baseball experience and a range of knowledge, and Hall is hoping all of that will translate to the varsity level. Mintz, Colby Geddis, and Brayden Purtell will look to provide additional innings in relief.

“With two years off due to COVID-19, and few players having varsity experience, I expected tryouts to be exciting,” Hall said. “Our players knew they had to come in and earn everything to gain a spot in the starting lineup. There continues to be daily position battles daily and it pushes players to improve. The talent we have in the program is consistent from top to bottom. The team brings energy and enthusiasm to everything they do and it truly makes the atmosphere on the field second to none. We cannot wait to get out on the field and compete against some of the best competition in the Hockomock League.”

Milford

2019 Record: 11-11
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Alex Dion

Milford will be the new kids on the block this season in their first year apart of the Kelley-Rex division, which features two teams that went to the Super 8 last time out and another that won the D1 State title.

The Hawks are going to rely on their pitching as they compete for the division title. Senior right-hander Mario Lee and classmate Wes Solomon, another righty, both picked up valuable experience as sophomores during the 2019 season and will anchor the Milford pitching rotation. Lee, who is committed to playing both football and baseball at Wesleyan, pitched in 10 games out of the bullpen in 2019 while Solomon appeared in five games with a 2.33 ERA.

Sophomore Evan Cornelius is a “big, physical kid” according to head coach Alex Dion, and he will round out the Hawks’ rotation this season. When he isn’t on the mound, Cornelius will be behind the plate and the same goes for Solomon, who could also see him in the middle infield. Lee will also be in the lineup when he’s not on the mound, playing at either first or third. Senior Carter Scudo burst onto the scene as a sophomore, hitting 0.352, and will be the catalyst to the offense this year, batting in the leadoff spot. He will anchor the outfield defense from center field.

“I’m excited to start our 2021 season,” Dion said. “It has been great to get back out on Fino Field for the first time since 2019. I have a good group of young men this year with players from all four classes making the varsity roster. This is a great league with quality teams, players, and coaches throughout. We will go out and compete to the best of our ability on a daily basis. I am optimistic about what this group has to offer this year and in the future.”

North Attleboro

2019 Record: 11-10
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Mike Hart

North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart has the best arm in the Hockomock League in senior Dennis Colleran and the 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jared Penta as the catalyst for the offense so the Rocketeers will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport title this season.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Colleran, who is committed to pitch at Northeastern, has been a member of the Rocketeers since his freshman year, making his first appearance in North’s D2 South Semifinal win over Dartmouth back in 2018. He logged 37.1 innings as a sophomore, posting a 3-4 record with a 2.63 ERA during the 2019 season. Since then, Colleran has honed his skills on the club scene and is poised to lead the Rocketeers this year. Senior Joe Hartnett and junior Danny Curran look to fill out the rotation while the Rocketeers have plenty of depth pieces including Tyler Bannon, Dan Pedro, Derek Maceda, and Aidan Weir.

Penta will hit from the leadoff spot and set the tone for the offense. Weir and classmate Justin Vecchiarelli will anchor the infield Maceda, a sophomore, could be poised for a breakout season at shortstop. Curran will also see time in the outfield when he isn’t pitching while senior Evan Vigorito, and juniors Brody Rosenberg, and Gavin Wells will be in the outfield mix. Bannon and Nik Kojoian will be options behind the dish for the Rocketeers.

“Just like other teams in the league, we are curious how our players will make the jump to varsity baseball,” Hart said. “We will do our best to be fundamentally sound and keep things simple. Our pitching staff has a handful of competitive guys who are looking for an opportunity to help the team. The boys are excited about the season and hope we can bring a consistent approach to all our opportunities this year.”




Oliver Ames

2019 Record: 12-13
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Joe Abarr

After reaching the D2 South Sectional Final in 2018, the Tigers fielded basically an entirely new squad during the 2019 campaign. Two years later, Oliver Ames looks to be in the same boat as there minimal varsity experience on the roaster.

Senior Nate Fulford is one of the few players that did see varsity action two years ago, emerging as a go-to option offensively as a pinch-hitter as a sophomore. Now Fulford will be a key piece in the lineup each game, manning third base and bringing a big bat to the heart of the lineup. Senior Jadon Ricci will take over at shortstop and is slated to hit near the top of the lineup.

Junior Jack Richardson was a part of the Tigers’ varsity squad as a freshman and is now in position to anchor the rotation. He’ll be in the lineup even when he’s not on the mound, patrolling the always tricky outfield at Frothingham Park for the Tigers. When it comes to new faces on the squad this year, junior Jake Waxman brings a big bat to the lineup and can bring some pop to the offense; he will start at first base defensively. Junior Joe Cicchetti has impressed early on in tryouts and the preseason both offensively and defensively, and he is slated to start in center for the Tigers.

“We should have a solid lineup,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “We have depth at most positions and decent options on the mound. With so little practice time prior to the first game, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, but we have a great group of guys that are really looking to compete this year.”

Sharon

2019 Record: 2-18
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Andrew Poliferno

The last time the Eagles hit the field, they had one of the youngest teams in the Hockomock League. Now that means there is a lot of returning players back in the dugout this year and Sharon should be one of the most experienced groups in terms of baseball played.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Sharon has a new head coach in alum Andrew Poliferno, who is no stranger to the program after coaching at each level over the past few seasons. Poliferno takes over for Kee Arguimbau, who had been with the program as a coach for nearly 20 years including the last four as head coach. Poliferno has 10 seniors at his disposal this year including two of the most experienced players in JD Rittenberg and Justin Brown, who both started as sophomores in 2019. Playing at second and short, respectively, the Eagles will have solid defense up the middle of the field. Sharon expects strong defense to come with the experience it has.

Junior Dylan Labbe pitched some innings as a freshman so the Eagles will lean on him as one of the anchors of the pitching staff. Senior Justin Nault and junior Ryan Baker will also see time on the mound while freshman Luke Meixel is slated to be a part of the starting rotation right away. Offensively, Rittenberg and Brown will lead the way once again. Baker and classmate Nate Yaffe should slot into the lineup in their first year on varsity, playing third and outfield, respectively. Poliferno is also looking for contributions from Damien Bonner and Daniel Zagoren offensively.

“After a missed season, it’s wonderful to see our players back out on the field,” Poliferno said. “Despite the year off, I was impressed with the growth and progress our players made since they last played high school baseball. It was clear to me we have a program of players who work hard during the off-season and I look forward to seeing their hard work translate to wins this season.”

Stoughton

2019 Record: 14-9
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Mike Armour

Like most schools, Stoughton has a limited number of players with varsity experience on the roster this season. It will be baptism by fire for a lot of new faces as head coach Mike Armour will look to get the most out of his lineup to try and compete for the Davenport division title.

The players that do have any varsity experience will be key, especially early on in the season as the rest of the Black Knights get used to the varsity level. Senior Brady Conlin will anchor the Stoughton staff on the mound this year and also hit in the heart of the lineup. Conlin has experience both pitching and at the plate and could be one of the most dangerous all-around players in the league. Senior captain Kyle Doolin will anchor the infield and is an option to pitch as well. He is slated to hit near the top of the lineup and could also see time behind the plate defensively.

Jake Queeney, another senior captain, will patrol center field for the Black Knights and hit from the leadoff spot. Queeney’s speed has been on display on both the basketball court and football field, so his legs could cause some damage on the base paths. Senior captain Brandon Mantilla-Mercado will take care of the pitching staff this year as the starting catcher and will bring some power to the plate offensively. Junior infielder Anthony Tilton has impressed early and figures to be a top bat in the lineup, juniors Jonah Ly and James Price will both see innings in the infield and on the mound, and junior Brad Franey is slated to take over at second. Seniors Joe McNulty, Colby Andrews, Andrew Scardina, and junior Colin Alessi provide lineup depth. Freshmen Hunter Malkin and Ben Zola will likely make an immediate impact for Stoughton.

“The kids are excited to play baseball,” Armour said. “They have brought a positive attitude and willingness to work to practice, which is all I can ask for as a coach. We are excited to get a little bit better every day, and put ourselves in a position to win some ballgames this season.”

Taunton

2019 Record: 21-7
2019 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship
Coach: Blair Bourque

It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were celebrating their Division 1 State Championship at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. Yet at the same time, it somehow also feels like a lifetime ago.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

The Tigers are one of the teams that will “what if” when it comes to the 2019 season, as they were set to have eight starters back to try and defend their first-ever state championship. Now for the 2021 season, there is just one Tiger starter back from that regular season. That is senior pitcher/infielder Danny MacDougall, who will anchor the pitching staff and also return to his shortstop position. Ty Cali, who took over for MacDougall after an injury sidelined him for the postseason, is also back to give Taunton a solid 1-2 punch up the middle of the field. Cali can also slide over and play short when MacDougall, who is committed to playing at the University of Hartford next year, is on the mound.

Sophomore Ryan MacDougall is set to finally make his varsity debut this year. A verbal commit to the University of Dayton, Ryan MacDougall was on the playoff roster for the state championship team as an eighth-grader. Not only does he bring a big bat and power to the lineup, head coach Blair Bourque described his plate discipline as “well beyond his years.” If the Tigers want to compete at a high level, Bourque noted the importance of senior pitchers Conor Quinlan, Bretton Heggs, and Matthew Ferrara. In total, Taunton boasts a dozen seniors on the roster.

“My expectation for this season is for us to compete as a team and individually every day as best we can, but ultimately, I will be grateful I get to spend time on the field with my players,” Bourque said. “It is always about the relationships formed with your players throughout the course of a year, you don’t always appreciate how good you have it until it’s gone. Losing last season really made me appreciate my role as the head coach for the Taunton High baseball program.”

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2019 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Oliver Ames baseball
Oliver Ames’ Jake Erlich (left) and Reid Latham celebrate after recording the final out to beat Duxbury in 2018. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 9-11
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Steve Dunlea

After missing out on the playoffs by just one game last season, the Bombardiers are hoping to their experience will help them reach the state tournament this year.

Attleboro has experience in its pitching staff, behind the plate, and both in the infield as well the outfield. The Bombardiers pitching was a strength last season and should be again this year. Eoin Kelleher, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns for his senior season and will be the anchor on the staff. Junior Ryan Morry impressed during his outings last season and lefty Camden Fitzpatrick will be in the mix as well.

The Bombardiers will be very strong on the left side of the infield. Senior captain Mason Houle will man third base while junior Tim Callahan, a starter last season, takes over at shortstop. Junior Lorenzo Wilson is slated to take the job at first base while Morry and junior Nick McMahon will split time at second base. While it’s a strong group defensively, all four will be relied upon to step up offensively. Attleboro had just 80 runs total last year, least in the Kelley-Rex division.

Another big part of the offense will be center fielder Alvaro Espinal. Espinal is arguably the best fielding outfielder in the league and will also bring a spark to the Bombardiers lineup at the plate. Senior captain Robbie Furtado will fill in at left field while Sam Larkin and Troy Gamache will both see time in right as well as designated hitter. Behind the plate, Troy Van Vliet gives the Bombardiers some experience while sophomore Bailey Camacho gives first-year head coach Steve Dunlea some flexibility at the position.

“The strength of this team is its senior class leadership and team chemistry,” Dunlea said. “We really have a well-balanced team that is strong in all phases of the game. It’s going to be a fun group to watch this year.”

Canton

2018 Record: 5-15
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ben Shuffain

A strong core of returning players along with some young talent should make for a fun season for the Bulldogs in 2019.

After losing a few key pieces from 2018, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for first-year head coach Ben Shuffain to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Pigeon, Paul Corcoran and Robert Sullivan. Pigeon is a three-year starter behind the plate who batted .368 last season. Corcoran and Sullivan will anchor a deep pitching staff that has looked solid in the preseason.

The pitching staff will also include seniors Kevin McGonigle, Nick Murray, and Joe Bates. Along with them Shuffain will also lean on junior Chris Rota and sophomores Nate Hewitt and Matt Connolly on the mound.

The infield has a double play duo that has shown to work well together featuring senior Mike Konzal and returning second baseman Nathan Quan. Offensively Canton will look to senior Max Macort along with juniors Owen Lahane and Lucas Bryant, and sophomore Steven Burbank.

“We have been very fortunate to have a lot of work outside so far this spring and I think it is going to help us start off on a positive,” Shuffain said. “The team is coming together and we have a great group of kids who really want to turn this program around.”

Foxboro

2018 Record: 5-16
2018 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round
Coach: Derek Suess

Foxboro graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad but there are 12 Warriors returning with varsity experience looking to make another trip to the state tournament.

The Warriors will be relying on their pitching staff this year to lead the way. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the rotation with senior Anthony Mollica and sophomore Sean Yoest each possessing plenty of varsity experience. Those two will be the top guys in the rotation while sophomore Cam Prescott has impressed during the preseason and could fit into the third starting spot. Seniors Guy Quartarone, Brian Duncan, and Philip Thomas as well as juniors Michael Devlin and Joe Cavaleri will be in the mix as well.

When he isn’t on the mound, Mollica will be the anchor of the defense from the shortstop position. He will be joined by sophomore Michael O’Toole at first base, Cavaleri will man third, and Thomas will take over at second base. Senior Adam Lanctot will also see time at second base this season for the Warriors.

In the outfield, Duncan — a senior captain that missed all of last season — will be the anchor, with Devlin handling center field duties and junior James Kaeser rounding out the Warrior outfield. Junior Zach Jenkins will also be in the mix for time in the outfield while junior Kyle McGinnis takes over behind the plate and will be relied upon as a key piece of Foxboro’s offense.

“Mentally, we have to have the same focus, energy, and intensity every single game,” said Foxboro coach Derek Suess. “There are no easy games in the Hockomock League. We must be consistent in our everyday approach in order to have a chance to compete for a league title.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 21-5
2018 Finish: Division 1A (Super 8) State Champions
Coach: Zach Brown

Coming off the program’s first-ever Super 8 state championship, Franklin is going to have a big target on its back — and the Panthers know it.

Franklin lost its top three pitchers in Jake Noviello, Bryan Woelfel, and Jason Ulrickson. Those were the only three pitchers to play during the Panthers’ Super 8 run. This season, the Panthers will turn to the experience of Ben Guzman, Brennan Rivera, and Will Pacheco. All three made appearances a year ago with Guzman and Pacheco registering wins. Guzman is currently recovering from an injury suffered in the preseason but the Panthers are excited for his contributions when he returns. Juniors Liam Dailey and Cody Trotin will also be in the mix after starting for JV last season.

While the pitching staff gets settled in, the Panthers will rely on its defense and offense. After an up-and-down regular season last year offensively, Franklin will be trying to carry over the success it had in the state tournament. Senior Alex Haba is back at shortstop and is one of the best two-way players in the Hockomock. Jake Macchi had a terrific postseason and will be looking to carry that over into his final year starting at catcher for Franklin. Scott Elliott will be the veteran in the outfield for the Panthers as well as a top offensive weapon. All three players — Haba, Macchi, and Elliott — are committed to playing baseball at Merrimack.

Cooper Ross is coming off a strong postseason and will start at third base while junior Jack Nally had a standout sophomore campaign in center field and will move up to the top of the order to set the table for the Panther offense. JB Floris will move from the designated hitter spot to first base and brings an experienced bat with him. Senior Joe Lizotte should see time in the outfield while senior Shane O’Neil’s versatility gives Franklin a lot of options defensively.

“We know this isn’t last year, this is a totally different team with different dynamics,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We like the makeup of our team, with guys working hard and the seniors being good leaders. I think we could be pretty good defensively, and we’ve shown at times in the preseason to be pretty versatile on offense.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 7-14
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Greg Kessler

King Philip is returning a lot of experienced players from last year’s squad and is hoping that will turn into an improved season and berth in the state tournament.

One big reason for optimism is a seasoned pitching staff, which features seniors David Morganelli and Terry Murray. Morganelli posted a 1.99 ERA last season along with 43 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched. Murray will be the second starter for the Warriors while juniors Chris Sawyer and Robbie Jarest are expected to factor into the rotation as the season progresses.

“David’s size, strength, and velocity make him a formidable pitcher,” said KP’s second-year head coach Greg Kessler. “His slider and ability to locate his fastball are one of the best in the league. David has an opportunity to be one of the best pitchers in the Hock. He is competitive and has improved a lot in terms of accuracy.”

Sawyer and Jarest will handle the left side of the infield again this year, with Jarest returning as the starting shortstop and Sawyer back manning third base. Both players will be key pieces at the top of KP’s batting order. Senior Ian Zimmerman returns at second base while senior Jake Anderson and sophomore Conor Cooke will both see time behind the plate.

Timmy Nault (.311 last year) will lead the way in the outfield while Zachary Zarba will figure in as well. There is a lot of competition for some open spots in the KP lineup as well.

“We have a lot of work to do this season, we need to improve on our hitting and driving the ball,” Kessler said. “We have a great group of seniors who are dedicated and excited to compete for a Hock Title. This senior group is a collection of great student-athletes and really represent KP well. They are leaders on and off the field”

Mansfield

2018 Record: 19-5
2018 Finish: Super 8 First Round
Coach: Joe Breen

Mansfield had a very successful 2018 season that saw the Hornets win the Kelley-Rex division and earned a berth into the Super 8 tournament. But the Hornets enter the 2019 campaign hungrier than ever.

After seeing an early exit from the Super 8, Mansfield is aiming to get back and make some noise in the tournament this year. There will certainly be holes to fill after graduating two top pitchers in Tyler Dalton and Kevin Dow, as well as the steady bat of Justin Pena and the terrific defense of catcher Cullin Anastasia. However, there are 11 players due back from last year’s team and a handful of new faces ready to make an impact of their own.

Junior John Carney and senior Kevin Moran will anchor the rotation; the Hornets unfortunately lost ace Connor Sheehan for the season to an injury. Both Carney and Moran have experience though, and Mansfield is looking to seniors Jake Gerraughty, Matt Scibilia, Aidan Angland, Connor Smith, and sophomore Greg Coyle to fill the relief and spot start roles.

Mansfield brings back two of its three outfielders from last year with centerfielder Sam Nugent and right field Dan Saraceno both returning. Speedy shortstop Mike Hargadon is also back so the Hornets have three key pieces from the top half of the lineup back to pace the offense this year. Look for Eric Longley, Jenkins, Smith, Gerraughty, and Scibilia to also factor into to the Hornet lineup this year.

“It’s been a wild offseason here between losing some of our top guys and coming down with the injury bug but we have a great group of self-motivated returning players that we will look to keep our program going in the right direction,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “There are a lot of positional battles and innings on the mound to be sorted out, but the staff is excited to see the boys compete over the first couple weeks of the pre-season to get ourselves ready for [the first game]. While we had some great success last season, the boys know that we are 0-0 and they are ready to carve their own path.”

Milford

2018 Record: 5-15
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Alex Dion

After having a relatively young, inexperienced group in 2018, the Scarlet Hawks have flipped the script, bringing back six starters and eight total players and will be looking to ride that experience to an improved 2019 campaign.

Half of the returning starters are the three starting pitchers from last year, including senior Danny Corsini and juniors Colby Pires and Luke Rosa. Despite a 1-3 record last year, Rosa had a solid 2.97 ERA in 30.2 innings of work with 19 strikeouts. Corsini logged over 35 innings while Pires had over 24, so there is plenty of experience in the Hawk’s rotation.

Senior captain Matt Shaver returns to his shortstop position and will anchor the infield. Corsini and Pires will both see time at third base when they aren’t pitching, Justin Applebee is back for another season at second base, and Tyler Almeida continues his duties as the starting catcher for the Hawks. Senior captain Nick Marcolini gives the Hawks a left-handed option on the mound. Sophomores Carter Scudo (outfield) and Mario Lee (first, pitcher) will also factor in this year.

“I’m looking forward to the 2019 baseball season and am excited about the players that are on our team,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “This is a tough league with a lot of good teams and good coaches. I think we have an opportunity to be very competitive this year. I will lead on our returning seniors and captains to push this team in the right direction and I am excited about the young players we have in our program.”

North Attleboro

2018 Record: 22-2
2018 Finish: Division 2 State Champions
Coach: Mike Hart

North Attleboro is looking to replicate its success from last season, the best year in program history that resulted in the D2 State Championship. And with a solid group of returning players, there is optimism but the Rocketeers know it certainly won’t come easy.

“We are a team with a decent amount of returning players, but we will need everybody contributing to be successful,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “We are looking for guys to be more consistent, especially on the offensive side of the game.”

The Rocketeers have three returning starters in the infield, so that will certainly be relied upon as the season gets underway. Senior Nick Raneri started at third last season but will move over to first this year while seniors Shawn Watters and Ryan Warren will take care of business up the middle. Hart says there is a lot of competition for the final spot in the infield with a handful of players possibly seeing time. Brendan McHugh returns as the starting left fielder while Kyle Bolger, Russell Dunlap, and Kyle Briere are all in the mix.

Behind the plate, senior Todd Robinson and junior Owen Harding are battling for the starting spot.

While the Rocketeers look to get the offense going, they will rely on their pitching staff early on. Matt Wanless had a very strong junior year and will be counted on heavily this season while seniors Matt Seavey, Jake Palmer, Jake Carroll, as well as Dunlap and Briere, should be in the mix for innings. Sophomore Dennis Colleran will see an increased role this season and could emerge as a top option for the Big Red.

“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff to lead us, and with smart, mistake-free defense, we will be able to win some games,” Hart said. “I really like the competitiveness our team brings every day. If we can learn from our failures and grind through the tough parts of the season that are sure to come, I believe we can win some ball games.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 16-8
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Final
Coach: Joe Abarr

Oliver Ames is coming off one of its most successful seasons, reaching the D2 South Final last year. The Tigers graduated some key pieces but there is a lot of players back that gives OA hopes at replicating last year’s success.

Senior Chris Pearsons will be a leader on and off the field for the Tigers, moving over from third base to take over the starting shortstop spot. Pearsons is one of the top players in the league, earning HockomockSports.com First Team honors last year after belting out 30 hits for an impressive .448 average. Not only is he a dangerous offensive player, he’s one of the top defensive players in the league as well.

Another key returner for the Tigers is catcher Jake Erlich, who will begin his third year starting behind the plate. Erlich is one of the top defensive catchers in the region and OA is looking for him to have a breakout season at the plate. Junior Jacob Levine showed flashes last season with some timely hits as a pinch hitter. This year, Levine takes over at first and the Tigers will be looking for him to bring a consistent bat to the lineup.

Reid Latham, who went 2-1 last season with a 2.85 ERA, focused heavily on pitching this offseason and will take over as the top starter in the Tigers’ rotation.

“We have an established lineup of varsity hitters with a handful of underclassmen that will be filling in gaps for us,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Abarr. “Our pitching rotation should be solid as long as everyone stays healthy. Last year, the Hock proved to be one of the best leagues in the state. We need to show up and compete every day if we want to be successful.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 6-14
2018 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kee Arguimbau

After a couple of seasons of being on the outside looking in, the 2019 Sharon Eagles are looking to make strides towards a state tournament berth.

Although it will be a relatively young group, there is strong senior leadership. Head coach Kee Arguimbau is hoping that a nice mix of veterans and new faces will result in a successful season.

Tarlin was also the ace of the staff for the past couple of seasons but senior Noah Kamens should be ready to step into the top spot after some real strong outings last year. A lefty, Kamens does a nice job mixing up his pitches and will be a key part of Sharon’s defense. Kamens will be complemented by 6’6 righty Max LeBlanc, who burst onto the scene a year and had some impressive outings. Jared Reef returns behind the dish and the Eagles are looking for him to have a breakout year offensively.

Junior Alec Filipkowski is moving in from the outfield to second base while sophomore Justin Brown returns to shortstop after picking up valuable experience last season as a freshman. Noah Martinez, who recently returned to Sharon after living in Florida, could be a key piece of the offense while playing the hot corner defensively.

Seniors Dairell Martinez and Matty Jacobsen will be doing their part for the Eagles in the outfield while = senior Ben Reinbold looks to have an impact for Sharon on the mound.

“This year’s team is young. Luckily, what we lack in experience, we make up for in solid leadership,” Arguimbau said. “The seniors have done a phenomenal job in establishing the culture for the team this season. The young guys in the program have followed their lead and have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to continue to put the work in every day.

Stoughton

2018 Record: 10-9
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Mike Armour

Stoughton had a solid season a year ago, but an early exit from the state tournament has left the Black Knights hungry for more in 2019.

It starts with the two co-captains for the Black Knights: senior Zak Paquette and senior Robert Seaman. Paquette emerged as Stoughton’s top option on the mound last season and will be counted on to take on a lot of innings again this season. Paquette isn’t the most flashy pitcher but he helps put Stoughton in position to win games. Seaman will start at shortstop and the Black Knights are looking to him for a big bat in the middle of the lineup.

Last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year George Currier is looking to pick up where he left off last season, giving the Black Knights flexibility with his ability to play anywhere on the field defensively. Seniors Cian Swierzewski, Kevin Dixon, and Kyle Gagnon are all experienced outfielders, James Genest III gives Stoughton a nice presence at the plate offensively, and Mike Nazzaro will handle catching duties.

Newcomers Clayton Rahaman and Jacob Kaplan should log some innings in the outfield, along with Cam Dirosa in the infield and Brady Conlin in the infield and on the mound. Senior pitcher Evan Jackman has impressed so far this preseason and will be a key piece of Stoughton’s starting rotation.

“The goal this season will be to compete every time we set foot on the field, playing sound fundamental baseball and doing the little things to put us in a position to win some ballgames,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “The boys have been working hard and I expect us to have some fun this year and play the game the right way.”

Taunton

2018 Record: 1
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Blair Bourque

There is a lot of excitement in Taunton with its new turf field, but the Tigers are hoping it’s their performance on that field that will have people talking by the end of the year.

It all starts with pitching for Taunton this year. With two DI commits in Jack Moynihan (Siena) and Josh Lajoie (St. John’s), the Tigers will certainly be boasting one of the top pitching groups for another season. Moynihan posted a 1.44 ERA with 43 strikeouts while Lajoie fanned 36 batters and had a 1.52 ERA.

Both Moynihan and Lajoie provide a lot of offense as well, but the Tigers will need others to step up to fill some voids from graduation. Tyler Medeiros (.375) and Trevor Pietrzyk (.373) both graduated some Taunton’s offense so head coach Blair Bourque will be looking for some new faces to step up.

The Tigers will be looking to senior Evan Melo to give the offense a spark. Melo will patrol center field and set the table to the offensively from the leadoff spot. Junior Logan Lawrence impressed last year batting .336; Taunton will need his bat to provide pop in the middle of the lineup in 2019.

“We’re certainly excited about having the opportunity to showcase our new turf field,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “It’s really a dream come true. There’s something special about this year’s team, the senior leadership and camaraderie are substantial.”

Foxboro Beats Coyle To Punch Ticket To Postseason

By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor

FOXBORO, Mass. – The Foxboro Warriors had everything going during Wednesday’s 8-2 victory over Coyle Cassidy.

The Warriors were rewarded for following the same approach at the plate they’ve taken all season, scoring eight runs on nine hits. The Warriors also drew two walks and were hit by pitches six times.

“Our approach all seasons been going to the opposite field gap,” said Foxboro head coach Derek Suess. “We’ll react in on pitches, fight off curves or changeups if we have to and our guys kept that approach today and did the job. All of our hits, at least most of them were to the opposite field, nice line drives.”

With the win, Foxboro qualifies for the state tournament via the Sullivan Rule.

Foxboro struck first in the second inning when Chad Bearce drew a leadoff walk. After Devin Hassett reached on a fielder’s choice, a Matt Rongione single scored both runners.

Coyle Cassidy responded in the next inning with an RBI walk by Troy Oliveri, but Foxboro quickly answered when an error allowed for Joe Freitas to score.

Foxboro’s bats then blew the game open, scoring five runs over the fourth and fifth innings to increase their lead to 8-2.

“Joe Freitas, Jack Franceschelli, Matt Rongione all had those opposite-field hits to the gap,” Suess said. “Anthony Mollica as well, just one after another, everyone contributed today.”

Along with the Warriors offense, starting pitcher Steve McLaughlin was able to limit Coyle Cassidy to just two runs over 5.2 innings.

Coyle Cassidy threatened early in the first inning, loading the bases with just one out. McLaughlin was able to retire the next two batters, escaping the jam.

“Steve’s at his best when he gets ahead in counts because he can work his off-speed stuff,” Suess said. “He’s a senior, he’s battle tested, he can get out of them when we need him to. He did that today, did just enough for us on the mound and then we went to our bullpen.”

When Foxboro went to their bullpen, they called on freshman Sean Yoest. Yoest forced the first batter he faced to ground out, leaving two runners on base. Suess then turned to junior Anthony Mollica for the final two innings, who struck out four out of the eight batters he faced.

“Yoest did his job and Mollica came in and finished the job for us,” Suess said. “I’m proud of all three pitchers today.”

Behind all three pitchers was a fantastic defensive performance by Foxboro. Mollica at shortstop and Bearce at third made several key plays to which helped prevent scoring opportunities and Coyle Cassidy rallies.

“Great defensive effort today,” Suess said. “We preach that a lot, especially with guys on base and two outs, we got to keep the ball in the infield. They did that in a few spots, where that kid might score from second base if it squeaks through. We’re a bunch of dirt dogs out there [and] did what they needed to do to help us out and I’m just very proud of my guys, very proud.”

Foxboro (3-12 Hockomock, 5-14 overall) returns to the diamond Thursday at home for the final game of their regular season against Mansfield. Coyle Cassidy will return home to take on Bishop Connolly Saturday afternoon.