NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck baseball team is armed and ready for battle in the Naugatuck Valley League.
The Greyhounds possess one of their deepest pitching staffs in quite a few years and are looking to ride that strength back to the postseason.
Naugy fell short of its goal last year to be one of the league’s top teams, finishing with a 9-11 regular-season record. The ‘Hounds were in the middle of the pack last year when a four-game slide sent them reeling as the offense managed just three runs during the losing streak.
The Greyhounds managed a late-season run, going 4-1 in the last five games to make the state tournament, but dropped a first-round game, 1-0 to Manchester. It was an inconsistent offense that plagued the ‘Hounds, who were 2-7 in games when scoring three runs or less.
“We have all of our pitching back,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “Our defense and our pitching are solid and the strength of this team. The key this year is going to be scoring runs. We can’t have our pitchers worrying about guys getting on base or the defense making an error. We need to be able to score enough runs where that doesn’t become an issue.”
The Greyhounds will have a solid senior presence that will bring experience to the lineup. Three of those seniors will solidify the pitching game, led by John Dean, Adam Tavares and Rick Plasky.
Seniors Kevin Mariano (outfield), Kyle Plasky (infield-catcher) and Matt Giglio (infield-outfield) will need to establish themselves as consistent sources of run production to put the
‘Hounds at the top of the league.
“If we can put runs on the board we are going to be a very good team,” Deller said. “If we struggle offensively we are going to be in trouble. Our focus this season is going to be at the plate. Our pitching and defense was very good last year, but when you can’t score runs you can’t win games. We want to get better at the plate and be playing in late May and early June.”
The Greyhounds will also have junior Spencer Dreher, who put up solid numbers on the hill last summer for the Naugatuck Junior Legion team. Junior shortstop Jason Bradley will also be looked on to provide a solid bat in the lineup.
Juniors Josh Aviles, Evan Pelliccia and Kyle Pyshna are the other pieces of the offense that will need to put together productive at-bats if the Greyhounds are going to be successful at the plate.
“We have depth and that is another key,” Deller said. “We have three guys we can put behind the plate, we are solid up the middle and we can put five guys on the mound. But it all starts with the effort you put in practice. You can’t just roll it out on game day and expect to be successful.”
Deller hopes that his team can put it all together and move from the middle of the pack to the program’s traditional spot near the top of the conference.
“Winning nine, 10 or 11 games is not where we want to be,” Deller said. “We want to get back to the days when we were one of the top teams in the league. And for that to happen it’s going to take all three aspects of the game: solid pitching, a good defense and a consistent offense. Winning starts with the amount of effort you put in at practice. That’s what we are trying to teach these guys. If you put in the work and give it your best effort every time you are on the field then you are going to be successful.”
The Greyhounds get the season underway April 9 at Derby. The ‘Hounds will conclude the first week of the season with away games April 11 at Ansonia and April 12 at Manchester. Naugy will host its first home game at Rotary Field on April 14 against Kennedy.