NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck High School baseball team has struggled out of the gate four of the last five seasons.
A 3-5 start last year had the Greyhounds playing catch up all season long. They turned things around by going 7-3 the second of the season to earn a spot in the NVL and Class LL tournaments, where they fell in the opening round of each.
In 2014, a 9-1 start lead to a 15-5 finish and a trip to the state tournament quarterfinal.
“Historically we have struggled early in the season with our bats,” Naugatuck head coach Tom Deller said. “Although it’s a concern, we saw what happens when we can drive in runs early in the season with the quick start we had two years ago.”
The Greyhounds come into this season minus 11 seniors that graduated last year, including number one pitcher Spencer Dreher, All-Iron Division pitcher Evan Pelliccia, All-Iron Division hitter Josh Aviles and shortstop Jason Bradley.
Naugatuck will be led this year by senior outfielders Kyle Torok and Devan Aviles.
“We did lose quite a few key players,” Torok said. “But we have a very talented core of younger players who are ready to step up. They have a real good attitude and they are working hard to get better every day.”
“We have been working hard on our hitting,” Aviles added. “I don’t think we are going to be concerned with getting out to a slow start because our hitting will be our strongest suit.”
Junior Jovanni Torres, who was an All-Iron Division player and led the team last year with 18 RBI, is back to lead the Greyhounds at the plate. Junior Tyler Deitlebaum is projected to be another productive bat in the outfield rotation.
One thing the Greyhounds have a handle on is pitching depth. Torres, who has proven to be a multi-positional player, will be one of nine pitchers sharing time on the mound.
Junior Corey Plasky will split duties at shortstop and second base and also see his share of innings on the mound. Sophomore Mike Plasky, who plays third and first base, will also be a viable option in the pitching game.
Junior shortstop Steve Marinaro, junior first baseman Shane Swierbitowicz and sophomores Joe Kwaak and Domenic Landolfi will also register time on the hill.
“Even losing the amount of seniors we had last year I think this core of younger players are good enough to jump start our offense,” Deller said. “We are looking to take a different approach to the season. We obviously don’t want to be waiting around to turn things around in the second half. But the focus is to get better each day we go out on the field and be playing our best baseball come the end of May.”
Naugatuck will get the season under way on Saturday at home at 1 p.m. against Watertown. The Greyhounds will then hit the road to face Woodland April 4 and Ansonia April 6.