The question on Dave Simone’s mind entering the Spring season was less about talent and more about experience.
Simone had begun building up the Abbott Tech program in his first seven seasons as head coach, but when the 2020 season was canceled progress was stalled.
Despite just two seniors and 16 underclassmen with no varsity experience on the roster, Abbott Tech seems unstoppable in the CTC.
“We are building something that can last for the next few years,” Simone said. “I thought this was going to be a bit of a rebuilding year because we lost a lot of seniors. But this rebuild is already exceeding my expectations, so the future is bright.”
Outscoring opponents 181-50 this year, the Wolverines are 13-1 and sit three games ahead of any competition within the conference. Abbott Tech lost its first game to Kaynor Tech Thursday.
“I had a feeling we had some talent, but I didn’t know how much,” Simone said. “After losing last year, I didn’t know exactly what I had. Starting off 13-0 is much more than I could have asked for.”
Abbott Tech has been the clear team to beat in the CTC, setting a new pace for the rest of the conference.
“These kids have good baseball IQ,” Simone said. “Many of them have been playing together since a young age and they are really just jelling right now. We are building a culture to let everybody know we are not your typical tech team and that we can compete.”
Abbott Tech has never won the CTC championship and fell short of a CSC conference title in 2010 and 2011, and Simone’s team is aware.
“We said the goal at the beginning of the season was to win the conference,” Simone said. “The guys are hungry. I let them know our history and they want to be the first to do it. They want to set some history here.”
The Wolverines know nothing is guaranteed.
“We have a young group,” Simone said. “I’ve got two freshmen in my starting lineup and four sophomores, but we have some talent here and they keep learning.”
Abbott Tech’s lineup, which has been feasting on opposing pitching with a team slash line of .364/.501/.513, has been mostly led by freshmen.
Freshmen Robbie Briggs and Leo Paragarino have paced the offense, both with an OPS over 2.500.
Briggs has a .511 batting average with 29 runs scored and 10 RBIs. He has only gone down via the strikeout five times in 58 plate appearances.
“Briggs is a freshman from Georgia who moved up here a few years ago,” Simone said. “He is a tough out. He always puts the ball in play and hits is hard, he has been very consistent and has been the rock in the middle of our order.”
Paragarino is the leadoff hitter and has a .513 batting average with 21 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
“He is a scrappy player,” Simone said. “He wrestled for Danbury High so he has that scrap to him. He puts the ball in play and he can be very problematic on the bases from a pitching standpoint.”
Jake DeFonce and Jayson Reisert, the team’s two seniors, both have batting averages flirting with the .400 mark as well.
Sophomore Tyler Meeks is Abbott Tech’s ace, posting a 4-0 record and a 1.35 ERA with 26 strikeouts in as many innings pitched.
Abbott Tech’s lone loss came Thursday afternoon to Kaynor Tech 4-3. The Wolverines play Goodwin Tech on Monday.
Abbott Tech is in a unique position with an excess of underclassman talent to not only take home its first title, but to create a perennial contender under Simone.