Season preview: Baseball

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Naugatuck’s Alex Sosa (2) takes a cut during a Class LL first-round game against Brien McMahon in May 2019 at Naugatuck High School. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVES

Naugatuck

2019 results: 14-9; lost to Newtown in second round of Class LL tournament; lost to St. Paul in NVL quarterfinals

Graduated: Derrick Jagello, Ryan McCarthy, Aiden Alexander, Nate Delaney, Joel Alexander, John Braziel, Alvin Torres

Seniors: Brayden Alves, Jonathan Chatfield, Peter Mullin, Justin Stone, Ryan Sutherland, Alex Sosa, Ryan Galiette, Lucas McKenney

Season opener: April 10 at Seymour

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling last season, head coach Tom Deller only has one player back and no pitchers with any significant varsity time.

The team does have a roster with eight seniors, and Deller is looking for junior Brady Evon to make an impact, as well.

“We do have a lot of players with the ability to step in and contribute. The kids are making the easy early adjustments and seem to be happy to have the opportunity,” Deller said. “It’s just a matter of getting up to speed and having the ability to compete at what is probably a higher level of play than most have experienced.”

Woodland

2019 results: 20-6; NVL Copper Division champion; lost to Wolcott in Class M semifinals; lost to Holy Cross in NVL semifinals

Graduated: Mike Szturma, Jason Claiborn, Andrew Rowley, Trey Mastropietro, Nick DeLucia, Kyle Simpson, Tyler Mei

Key seniors: Matt Belcher, Jayden Tomasella, Matt Koliani, Cam Heeman

Season opener: April 10 at Sacred Heart

Prospect native Steve Bainer takes over the Hawks program after longtime coach Mike Kingsley stepped down. Kingsley, who was head coach for nine seasons and an assistant coach for almost every season before that, most recently led Woodland to the Class M semifinals in 2019.

After two years of heavy graduation losses, Bainer and the Hawks are basically starting fresh this season.

“If you look two years ago, they were really senior-heavy,” said Bainer, who was Derby’s head coach for the last three seasons. “Last year, [Woodland] was going to be really senior-heavy again. All those kids graduated, so really Tomasella, Heeman and Belcher are the only ones with any varsity experience.”

Bainer pointed toward Belcher, Tomasella, Heeman and Koliani as crucial parts of the team due to their experience.

“I think the strength is going to be our leadership,” said Bainer, who also expects Croy Mastropietro and Zach Drewry to be top contributors. “They’re setting the expectations of where we want to be.”