The Gloucester high school baseball team is starting the 2012 season with a clean slate according to head coach Joe Orlando. After graduating 12 seniors from the 2011 season, Gloucester enters 2012 with a host of new starters, but the talent has not gone away.
"We are turning the page on last season because this is a whole new team," Orlando said. "And so far it's been great. The team has a lot of chemistry and they've been easy to coach."
The Fishermen are looking to keep a few impressive streaks intact this season as they are looking to qualify for the postseason for the ninth straight season and make it to at least the sectional semi finals for the fourth straight season.
Although Gloucester has only three seniors on the team this year in captains Kyle Lucido and Logan Horne along with Lenny Zappa; they have provided all the leadership the Fishermen need this spring according to Orlando.
Defense has been the biggest strength for the Fishermen this preseason led by middle infielders Zappa at second base and junior Santo Parisi as shortstop. Gloucester also has an athletic outfield with Lucido, Horne and junior Mark Horgan.
Offensively Gloucester is rich has improved its power, which was on display Friday in a scrimmage against Wakefield. The Fishermen went yard three times against the Tigers. Sophomore Jordan Palazzola, a transfer from St. John's Prep who is going to catch for Gloucester this spring, hit a towering shot over the centerfield fence. Junior Devin Hemeon, another St. John's Prep transfer, hit a blast to right field while senior Ben Favazza put one over the right field fence.
"We have more power this year then we have in the past," Orlando said. "We are inexperienced but there's a lot to like because we are athletic."
Junior Jason Vizena will take the hill when the team opens Wednesday against Winthrop (4:00 p.m., Nate Ross Field) as the staff ace. Lenny Taormina, Favazza and juniors Sean Gillon and Alex Webb will also factor into the pitching rotation this spring.
As usual, Gloucester looks like a player in the NEC Small.
"Our first goal is always to get into the tournament," Orlando said. "The NEC is tough this year, there are no easy games but we will be competitive."
Coach says Vikings lack experience, but have athleticism
So far this preseason Rockport head baseball coach John Parisi says his Vikings have looked like a great baseball team. The Vikings, however, are an inexperienced bunch and early on have shown some typical problems inexperienced teams will face such as consistency.
"At times we have looked great and at times we haven't been good," Parisi said. "That's what we need to work on, consistency across the board. We only have three returning starters but our newcomers are good athletes and will make an impact early on because they are good athletes."
Rockport will be led by its three returning starters in 2011 Cape Ann League All Star Tucker Meredith, Mike Tupper and Conor Douglass, all juniors who were the three most consistent hitters on the team last season according to Parisi.
Meredith, who hurled a no-hitter as a Sophomore in 2011, enters the year as the staff ace with Tupper right behind him as the No. 2 starter. Competition is still open for the No. 3 slot according to Parisi but junior Dylan Cheaney is the frontrunner at the moment.
"When it comes to how far we will go this season it's going to depend on how far Meredith, Tucker, and whoever steps into that No. 3 slot will take us," said Parisi, who is the second longest tenured coach in the Cape Ann League as he enters his 16th season as head coach.
The teams biggest strength this season has come from its infield defense as Tupper and Douglass make up a strong middle infield unit at shortstop and second base respectively. Freshman Ethan Ryan will be the teams starting first basemen and he has already showed stellar fundamentals in the preseason. Junior Adam Balzarini, who has not played baseball since he was in middle school, has already stepped into the starting lineup.
Rockport is looking to take the Cape Ann League Division 3 title for the second straight season and they are the champs until they are beaten. "We won the Division last year and I still think we're the team to beat," Parisi said.
Lots of familiar faces for Manchester Essex baseball squad
The Manchester Essex baseball team took its share of lumps in 2011 with an inexperienced starting lineup. But the Hornets are looking upward in 2012 as the team returns seven of its nine starters this spring.
"We are experienced and you can already see the improvements," Hornets second year head coach Bob Garrett said. "We have played good defense and hit the ball early on."
The Hornets already started the season with a bang in the form of a 9-0 win over Cathedral on the road Wednesday. In the win Manchester Essex was firing on all cylinders with more than 10 hits and a complete game one hit shutout from senior hurler Max Nesbit. The Hornets staff ace also had seven strikeouts while throwing just 79 pitches in the win.
Senior captain and shortstop Joe Burgess powered the offense going 3-for-4 at the plate, Freshman right fielder John Browning also chipped in with three hits.
Pitcher Adrian Frattini, junior outfielder Cory Burnham and senior second basemen Matt Corwin are also players to watch for the Hornets this spring.