Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2010 Suburban Council baseball preview

Suburban Council baseball preview
Local teams swinging for the fences in 2010

William Montgomery
The Record

LATHAM – Players and coaches from Suburban Council baseball teams met at Shaker High School Wednesday night for the Council's annual Media Day, which has been a Capital Region tradition for over 10 years.

The Record sat down with a handful of local players and recorded those interviews on video.

Columbia High, which is the defending Section II Class AA champion, lost many starters to graduation. The Blue Devils will return a number of pitchers, who will throw to senior catcher and captain, Matt Kasper.

Shaker High also has a crowded situation on the mound, as Mike Nowak has earned ace status after pitching admirably as a junior a season ago. Blue Bison junior Derek Gardella is one of the best power hitters in the league at third base or catcher when he's not pitching himself.

Shenendehowa's Branden Cogswell, a junior shortstop and right-handed pitcher, is drawing interest from major Division I schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Collar City baseball fans may remember him as a crucial part of the 2009 South Troy Dodgers' Connie Mack team that advanced to the 18-and-under World Series in Farmington, N.M.

All baseball teams affiliated with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association lost four games to schedule cutbacks this season, meaning many schools had to decline an invitation to a tournament they usually attended or had to drop non-league rivalries.

The one thing all the Suburban Council coaches could agree on was that the league will be just as tough, top-to-bottom, as always. Since Section II teams need a .500 or better won-loss record to qualify for postseason play, fans can expect another season full of pressure-packed games in the Suburban Council.

“We always say every league game you play is game seven of the World Series,” said Shaker High head coach Peter Mravlja. “It doesn't matter if it's Mohonasen, Burnt Hills or Ballston Spa or if it's Shenendehowa, Columbia or Saratoga. You have to bring your 'A' game every day when you get off the bus.”

I also chatted with the Averill Park folks on hand, head coach Mike Conroy and juniors Tyler Listing and Nick Cioffi.

The Warriors will return just three starters and two other players who saw meaningful time from a season ago, but Listing and Cioffi will be at the forefront. Both are pitchers and they will join an open competition for innings on the mounds.

Andrew Fasoldt, Josh Sprague and Scott Sharpley are the other Averill Park players with some experience. Conroy believes the team will be solid on the mound and will be getting on base with regularity. The big question mark at this point in the defense.

Conroy praised the group's offseason work ethic, which included a dedicated group of 20 players that got together regularly for workouts. They've got chemistry and a positive attitude, Conroy says.

Out of curiosity, I asked the Averill Park guys about the support the girls basketball team received this winter en route to their Federation Tournament title. Conroy has been using them as an example of a "great team," which is something the baseball squad can use as a model. They may not have any superstars, but they're all willing to come together and do the dirty work it takes to win, not unlike the lady hoopsters did this season.

Will the Gold Mine turn out for the Averill Park baseball games this spring?

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