You guys ready for some baseball?
Vin Mercogliano back for my third season as the beat writer for The Journal News and lohud.com, and I’m anxious to get things going. As we’ve done in years past, I reached out to every coach in the area and asked them to fill out these team preview capsules. Fittingly, the first response that I received came from John Jay and the defending Class A champs. The Indians went on a tremendous run last season as the six-seed, upsetting powerful Beacon with a 2-1 win in the finals. That title was sparked by a great pitching staff, but with each of its top four starters having graduated, John Jay will have to reinvent itself in order to repeat. Former Kennedy standout Joe Drpich transferring back to his hometown school will certainly be a big help.
Here are the responses that I received from John Jay coach Geoff Curtis:
How many years have you been coaching with your school? 11th year as head coach with Joe Gaudio entering his 11th year as assistant. Mark Mammola, Sean McGee and Chris McCarthy are in their second year as assistants.
How did the team do last season? Class A section champs and state final four. 18-9 overall.
Who are your top returning players? Jack Weiller (SS), Ronnie Corelli (2B), Chris Ciliberti (OF), Scott Michaels (1B/P) and Joe Drpich (1B/P).
Who are the top players that you lost to graduation? Will Jahn (P), Sam Mines (P), Trevor Filacchione (P), Tyler Keech (3B), Matt Albert (C), Jason Valvano (OF/P), Anthony Patti (OF) and Alec Brown (P).
What is your team’s biggest strength? Our defense, I believe, will once again be one of our strengths.
How do you feel about your pitching entering the season? Pitching determines so much and many of our innings from last year have departed. Having Drpich move back to John Jay will augment, but we’ll need players to step up. Scott Michaels returns with the most innings and should contend for the opening day starting spot. Luke Weinhaus should contribute greatly, as well. Carter Henry will be a junior that could see significant innings and could be an important part of any success we have.
Your lineup? The line-up will look drastically different. Obviously, our most well-known hitters will be Drpich and Weiller, with Corelli, Michaels, Ciliberti returning to attempt their sectional title defense.
Are there any areas that you’re concerned about? Catching is a big question mark. We’ve had some tremendous catchers behind the dish for us, but we’ve never had a catcher do what Matt did for us and his pitchers statistically last year. So, we’ll have to replace that, which is not a position we’ve been in since I’ve been here. We’ve got some young men working hard in that arena, so we are hopeful that we’ll be solid back there.
Which team(s) is your biggest rival? That’s hard to say — we’ve had so many league configurations — used to be Fox Lane, then Somers… All excellent programs and great competitive rivalries.
When is your opening game? We play the Quakers of Horace Greeley at home on March 27.
On deck: White Plains
I’ll be running these team previews everyday leading up to the start of the season. If you’re a coach in Section 1 or a local private/catholic school and did not receive a capsule, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by John Meore/The Journal News