Hawks return solid core

0
106

The Woodland baseball team returns a solid core of seniors this season, from left, Kevin Gabianelli, Sam Merriman, Robert Stach, Nathan Clarke, Dylan Cummings, Matt Spofford, Mike Kenney and Joe Poeta. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
The Woodland baseball team returns a solid core of seniors this season, from left, Kevin Gabianelli, Sam Merriman, Robert Stach, Nathan Clarke, Dylan Cummings, Matt Spofford, Mike Kenney and Joe Poeta. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Hawks come into the season armed and ready to make a solid run in the NVL after missing out on the league tournament last year for the first time since 2010.

A three-game skid to end the regular season had the Hawks finish up at 10-10. Woodland then gave Montville (17-3) a run for its money in the Class M first round, falling by a 6-5 margin.

“We lost six seniors to graduation but we return a solid core of eight seniors to lead the way this season,” Woodland head coach Mike Kingsley said. “Pitching will be the key. We have enough bats to hit the ball around. It just comes down to throwing strikes and not getting into trouble walking batters.”

The Hawks graduated Tanner Kingsley, Anthony D’Agnone and Everett Miner, three stable arms on the pitching staff. Woodland also lost three quality bats in Mike Gondola, Mike Conway and Chris Slavin.

The strength of Woodland this season will the experience and depth of the pitching staff. Seniors Mike Kenney, Matt Spofford, Sam Merriman and Nathan Clarke will lead the way. Juniors Tyler Boisvert and Mason Rek are also slated to see innings on the hill.

“Tyler really came on for us last season and developed into an effective pitcher,” Kingsley said. “We have a bunch of veteran guys who are ready to take the reigns. Senior Robert Stach and junior Mike Tuohy will see action behind the plate along with senior Joe Poeta, who is our all-around gritty utility guy who can play anywhere.”

Woodland returns its entire infield. Spofford and junior Jared Grillo will see action at first base along with Clarke, who will also serve as DH. Junior Matt Butterworth at second base and senior Sam Merriman at shortstop will form the double play combination, and Boisvert will hold down the third base bag. Kenney will move over to centerfield with Dylan Cummings and Kevin Gabianelli in the outfield as well.

“Mike Kenney will leave the program this year having played the most varsity baseball games in Woodland history,” Kingsley said. “Mike started his first game as a freshman and hasn’t been out of the lineup since. He is our go-to guy and his leadership will get us through the rough spots.”

As the Hawks prepare for a new season, the weather isn’t exactly cooperating.

“(Tuesday) was the first day we were able to go outside and we practiced on the soccer field. I’m really not sure when we will be able to use the baseball field as it’s still under 6 inches of snow. We may be road warriors the first few weeks of the season.”

Woodland is scheduled to open the season April 8 at home against Torrington. The Hawks will travel to Naugatuck April 9 and host Oxford April 10.

“Starting with Torrington and Naugatuck, two teams that finished 15-5 last year, really gives us a challenge right off the bat,” Kingsley added. “Oxford is just as tough, so we will need to come out strong and get the season off to a good start.”