By Benito Vila
Every baseball and softball player is familiar with the basics of the game, getting three outs, swinging the bat and running the bases. But growing up, aspects of what happens on the field change every year; the ball comes quicker, the bases seem a bit closer and the competition gets more and more keen.
Every season the Pierson JV teams take on a new character with players moving up from middle school and some going up to varsity. This year both squads also had new coaches, Kathy Amicucci coming back to coach the softball ladies and Henry Meyer coming in to lead the baseball boys.
Both teams had winning records, softball going 11-4 and baseball 14-4, with undermanned squads, softball taking the field only 10 deep at times and baseball doing the same.
The Young Ladies
Coach Amicucci summed up her season saying, “We started out, as the varsity team did, with a smaller than desired turnout. [Varsity coach] Melissa Edwards and I worked with the talent we had and it worked out nicely. We had games I thought we could have won that we didn’t but we also beat a couple teams I wasn’t sure we would.”
In describing individual players, Coach Amicucci acknowledged, “I was happy to see the talent of players like Sami James, Catherine Musnicki and Nina Hemby. I was happier to see all the girls work hard and improve up until the very last game. Sami ended the season with a .460 batting average. Chelsea [Freleng] ended with an impressive .516. Lindsey [Duran] had 101 strikeouts.”
Â “But with all the numbers, the thing that stands out the most is the team’s willingness to work. Keriann Fitzpatrick played shortstop, even though she preferred second base because I needed her to. And she always worked hard. Gemma [Gardella] improved every day to become a player that I trusted out on the field. And she hit the ball and advanced runners at almost every at bat.”
Looking ahead to next year, Coach Amicucci likes what she’s seen at the middle school level, suggesting, “I hope we can work something out with the middle schoolers and their late winter basketball season so we can bring up some up next year. The varsity lost a lot of great players and I just hope I did a decent job turning my JV players into effective varsity talent.”
The Future Whalers
Looking back this week, Coach Meyer said he liked how much his club, “wanted to learn the game. We improved every day, from the first day to the end, in the fundamentals we were teaching.”
Â “We won a lot of games by doing the things we were capable of; we didn’t have hitters who were driving balls into the gaps. We had to bunt and manufacture runs and it worked when people began to understand their roles in what we were doing.”
Hoping to see his players continue to succeed, Coach Meyer added, “To improve further, our players have to work a lot on conditioning and arm strength, starting now and going through the winter, so that they can make the plays they need to make.
Jake Weingartner led the team at the plate, hitting at a .491 clip with 14 runs batted in. Sean Hartnett finished second in batting, at .400, and first in runs scored with 25, just ahead of Paul Dorego (24) and Weingartner (23).
The team’s individual on-base percentages were gaudy, Brendan Hemby topping that category at .652. Hartnett (.618), Sean Romeo (.608), Jeremy Pepper (.600), Weingartner (.593), Emet Evgen (.581), Donald Doran (.568) and Hunter Leyser (.550) also found their way on base more times than not.
Dorego was behind the plate for most of the season, catching a starting rotation of Weingartner, Doran and Leyser. Sean Romeo, Frank Romeo and Harnett all threw ably in spot starts and in relief.