With the impressive lineups most teams in the FCIAC possess, quality pitching and strong defensive play are paramount to a squad’s success in the competitive conference.
Though the starting rotation isn’t set yet and numerous players are competing for several positions, pitching and defense should, once again, be the Greenwich High School baseball team’s biggest strengths.
“I definitely think we have a chance to have a good starting rotation,” GHS coach Mike Mora said. “We have a lot of pitchers who can throw strikes. We don’t have a lot of hard throwers like we did last year, but we have guys who can throw strikes and hold runners on base well. Defensively, we are still trying to figure out who is playing where, but we like what we see.”
Senior co-captain Kyle Woodring is one of the Cardinals who can play multiple positions. He can catch and is equally effective at first base.
“I just want to help the team in any way I can, whichever position fits best for the team,” said Woodring, who should also help power the Cards at the middle of the lineup. “It’s important for us to get good pitching and play good defense. If we do the little things right that will help us. In baseball, it’s all about the small things — if we do them right we should have a good season.”
Simon Bass, a senior co-captain, is one of the pitchers the Cardinals will be relying upon for quality starts and leadership.
“We have a very deep pitching rotation, which is good, because in FCIAC baseball you have to pitch and play defense to compete with everyone,” Bass said.
Last season saw the Cardinals dig a hole for themselves record-wise, as they started the year 0-4 and 4-9 before rallying for a 9-11 finish — a record good enough to qualify for the CIAC Class LL Tournament.
“Getting off to a good start this year would be huge record-wise, but also confidence-wise,” Bass said. “That would be a good way for us to build confidence. Our goals are to make FCIACs and make a deep run in the state tournament, but we have to take it game-by-game and see how we do.”
Greenwich opens its season on the road Saturday against Simsbury.
AT THE HELM: Mora is beginning his second season in his second stint as coach of the Cardinals. Greenwich lost to Fairfield Prep in the first round of the Class LL Tournament last season.
In his first tenure as Greenwich’s coach — which spanned 13 seasons — Mora guided the Cards to the FCIAC championship in 2004 and to the conference tournament’s final in 2012 and 2013. His 2012 squad went 20-0 during the regular season. A GHS graduate, Mora played baseball at the University of Vermont and continued his career in the minor leagues.
Bobby Darula, who had a 13-year minor league/independent league career, returns as an assistant coach, along with Paul Meyfohrt. Darula spent time lending his expertise on base running and how to take the proper lead to the players during Monday’s practice.
WHO’S GONE?: Graduation claimed hard-throwing starting pitchers Connor Langan and Anthony Ferraro. Langan is pitching at Dickinson College while Ferraro is playing football and baseball at St. Lawrence. Paul Williams (playing football at Fordham), Erik Mini (playing baseball at Williams College), Mark Sunoo, Henry Quinlan, Andrew Desino, Jake Beinstein, Aaron Schur and Richard Columbo were among some of the other graduates.
WHERE ARE THEY PLAYING?: Bass, junior Alex Roath, senior Charlie Zeeve, junior Zach Karson, Luc Thibeault (junior), Joe Mingione (senior) and Ian Colalucci (junior) and Mitchell Grimes (junior) are each slated to pitch.
Woodring catches and plays first base, senior Henry Saleeby is a first baseman while junior Stephen Bennett and senior tri-captain Hayden Kistler can each play second base.
Senior Matt Circelli and sophomore Daniel Perez are competing at the shortstop position, while sophomore Chris Genaro and Colalucci play third base. Kistler, Jackson Blanchard (junior), senior Robert Lanni, Sean Pratley (junior) and Henry Jonokuchi (junior) are outfielders and senior Charlie Povinelli is an infielder.
STRENGTHS: Versatility is an asset for the Cardinals, who have numerous players who can play different positions. Nearly every starting position has two players challenging for starting roles.
“It’s good to have people competing at each position,” Woodring said. “It makes people come out with a lot of energy in practice and in games — no one comes out for a game flat. We have a lot of depth and talent at each position.”
Said Mora: “From last season, we need to improve on our hitting and cutting down on the mental mistakes. It’s tough to make one of the top eight teams for the FCIAC Tournament, but getting there would be fantastic. Hopefully, we can get there and make something happen.”