Campbell has won 31 straight
It happens in high school sports. Graduation is often a team’s toughest opponent.
But the Campbell High School baseball program has been able to avoid that problem. It’s the area’s most successful over the last few years.
For example, the Cougars have only lost two varsity games in three years. They are currently riding a 31-game winning streak on the varsity level. Oh, and the Cougars JV teams have won 32 in a row.
So a lot of eyes will be on two-time Division III champion Campbell this spring to see what a Cougars team that has just three starters back from an unbeaten 20-0 club can do. The architect of this, Campbell coach Jim Gorham, knows that there will a be a learning curve, but "We could be a tough out" come tourney time. But what does he attribute the unbeaten streaks to?
"Last year, it was a team with the most experience on the field," he said. "Nothing really bothered those kids. They were very resilient."
And they’ll try to develop that trait again.
What about in Division I? Locally, Alvirne has some key returnees, but the main one is a blue chipper in shortstop-center fielder Dan Brown, who is headed to UMass Amherst next year. He hit .328 while stealing 18 bases in 18 attempts last spring. We’ve all known Brown as a Broncos quarterback and point guard, but this is his sport.
"This could be a special team," longtime Broncos coach Mike Lee said. "We like this group."
At Bishop Guertin, the team that sent the Broncos packing in the tournament last year, several key returnees could make a difference. Cardinals coach Scott Painter envisions his team’s offense will also put pressure on the opposition.
"We have guys on the offensive side of the ball that have an idea of what they’re doing at the plate," he said.
Nashua North has new coach Logan Gillis, who is taking over a team that features top pitchers Sam McCarthy and Spencer Bergeron. Nashua South will be young, but Panthers coach James Gaj tips his cap to the rival Titans.
"Once again, North has the best pitching in the division," he said, referring to the Titans one-two pitching punch of McCarthy and Bergeron.
Merrimack has several returnees, but the main weapon for the Tomahawks is Justin Grassini toeingthe rubber.
Overall in Divsion I, Bedford (shortstop/pitcher Connor Lee is key) is seen as one of the favorites with players moving up to a roster that made the finals last year from an undefeated JV team. Keene is also seen as strong with a solid one-two pitching duo of Sam Cooper and Eric Zecha, while Exeter, despite losing nine seniors, is considered a strong contender as well.
In Division II, Souhegan hopes to be strong again after a 13-5 season in 2015, and has seven returning starters – pitcher Joe Grassett being a huge key. Milford coach Steve Claire, due to family reasons, is taking most of this season off, leaving last year’s assistant, Todd Robichaud, to take the reins on an interim basis.
"The kids have worked very hard this preseason and have come together as a team in a short amount of time," Robichaud said.
Longtime Hollis Brookline coach Ryan Coulter, after a tough 2015 (three wins), has several new faces in the hopes of improving.
In Division IV, Wilton-Lyndeborough has several back from a team that won 10 games, including ace pitcher Christian Seeley (eight wins) and first team All-State shortstop Nolin Stevens.
COACH: Mike Lee (33rd year).
2015: 12-7, lost to Bishop Guertin in prelims.
RETURNING STARTERS: Jacen Hudson, sr., p/3b; Matt McKinley, sr., ss/p; Dan Brown, sr., cf/ss/p; Mike Simard sr., lf/p; D.J. Lamothe, jr., p/1b; Pat Rauseo, jr., p/2b; Dan McCrystal, jr., c/inf.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dylan Quinlan, sr., 2b; Eddie Sweeney, jr., of.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Curtis Richall, sr., c; Dan Malizia, jr., p/of; Kyle Kostro, jr., p/of.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We’ll go as far as our pitching," Lee said. "We’ll hit and put pressure on teams."
COACH: Scott Painter (sixth year).
2015: 10-12, lost in quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Andrew Thibault, sr., p/inf; Chad Olivieri, sr., 1b; T.J. Hart, sr., p/inf; Jake McMaster, sr., of; Tyler Faulkner, so., 2b/of; Chase Blazak, jr., p/inf.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Mike Harney, sr. of; Keenan Dwyer, sr. of; D.J. Incropera, sr. of/p; Anthony Giannini, sr., p/1b; Tyler Christiansen, jr., c.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Jordan Hiscoe, sr., p/of; Chris Fischer, sr., of; Jack Fahey, sr., of; Nick Slater, jr., p/inf.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "As with every team in New Hampshire high school baseball, pitching and defense are going to be vital to our success," Painter said. "If we compete, pitchers throw strikes and our defense makes the routine plays, we’ll be successful."
COACH: Nick Jaskolka (fourth year).
2015: 6-13, lost to Spaulding in prelims.
RETURNING STARTERS: Tyler DeNeill, jr., of; Nick Dutton, jr., c; Justin Grassini, jr., p/inf; Tyler Rohr, jr., p; Chad Seaver, sr., ss; Ryan Slate, sr., of.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alex Murphy, sr., of.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Andrew Michaud, jr., 2b; Alex Thornton, jr., 1b/p.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We’ll be successful if all of our pitchers can contribute weekly, not just our starters," Jaskolka said.
COACH: Logan Gillis (first year).
2015: 13-8, lost to Salem in prelims.
RETURNING PLAYERS: Sam McCarthy, sr., p; Connor Mullaly, sr., inf/p; Michael Rogers, sr., of; Grant Coy, jr., of; Chris Barrett, so., inf/p; Noah Ouellette, jr., of/p; Andrew Ashworth, jr., c; Spencer Bergeron, sr., p/of; Kenneth Jerez, sr., inf; William Howell, jr., inf.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Varun Lingadal, fr., p; Tony Gallinaro, fr., of; Bryce Eckenrod, fr., p; Pat McCarthy, so., p.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We’ll work hard," Gillis said. "We’re going to have be the kind of team that grinds it out against every team."
COACH: James Gaj (third year).
2015: 7-12, lost to Keene in prelims.
RETURNING STARTERS: Ryan Penkala, sr., of; Patrick McDonnell, sr., c; Owen Amigo, jr., of; Joe Routhier, jr., ss.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Devin Gates, jr., p; Nick Perkins, sr., 1b; Jason Fox, sr., of.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Alex Parrott, jr., of; Zach Finklestein, p/1b; Mitch Coy, sr., 3b.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We’re fielding a very young team this year," Gaj said. "We’ll have to rely on senior leadership to anchor the team."
COACH: Ryan Coulter (18th year).
2015: 3-12, did not qualify for tournament.
RETURNING STARTERS: Nate Corsetti, jr., p/3b; Nick Fothergill, jr., ss; Stephen Giaconia, jr., 2b; Stepen Giaconia, jr., 2b; Cameron Chrystal, sr., of.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Dan Leone, so., C; Kyle Szewczyk, sr., of; Kobe Popham, jr., 3b; Jack MacLeod, jr., p/1b.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Joe Brown, so., ss/p; Mitchell Dreyer, so., 2b; Kaito Kramarczyk, fr., of/p; Tyler MacDormand so., of;
Jack Belanger, jr., of/p; Nick White, jr., p.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "Lots of new faces this year, so we’ll need our older players to step up and show the younger guys how to win at this level," Coulter said. "Pitching and defense will be the key for us this year to make the playoffs."
COACH: Todd Robichaud (first year).
2015: 6-11, lost to Souhegan in prelims.
RETURNING STARTERS: Michael Pellitteri, sr., of; Mark Madigan, sr., of/p; Bryce Walker, sr., ss/p; Logan Chaput, sr., 1b/p; Mason Gaudette, sr., 3b/p; Tyler Gendron., so., inf/p.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Matt Hattenburg, sr., inf; Padrick Harvey, sr., c.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Jacob Wilder, jr., 2b; Nick Cauley, jr., inf; Ryan Flaherty, jr., of/p.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "It comes down to our pitchers throwing strikes, playing good defense, and timely hitting," Robichaud said. "It’s as simple as that. If we can minimize mistakes we should be able to compete in every game."
COACH: Bill Dod (24th year).
2015: 14-6, lost to Coe-Brown in quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Sam Bannon, sr., c; Owen Batchelder, jr., p/1b/of; Max Benevides, jr., of; Thomas Bennett, sr., ss; Alec Burns, so., 1b/p; Joe Grassett, sr., p/2b/of; Bryce Reagan, so., 3b.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNES: Tucker Aiello, jr., of/3b/p; Caelan Behn, so., c/of; Ryan Hill, jr., 2b.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Noah Hodges, jr., p/ss/2b.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We bring a highly motivated, strong baseball knowledge group into the season," Dod said. "We’ll utilize the lessons learned from a strong 2015 season."
COACH: Jim Gorham (14th year).
2015: 20-0, won Division III championship.
RETURNING STARTERS: Kyle Shaw, sr., of/p; Mike Gray, sr., of/inf/p; Matt Gagne, jr., 2b.
OTHER RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ethan Quigley, sr., 1b.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Nick Boucher, so., ss; Mike Jorgensen, so., 3b; Teddy Douris, jr., of; Griffin St. Onge, jr., p/of; Zach Moore, sr., c; Cody St. Claire, sr., inf.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "Call me back after eight games," Gorham said. "I think we’ll go through some growing pains, but I think if what I’m watching now develops fast enough, we could be a tough out."
COACH: Dave Finch (16th year).
2015: 10-8, lost to Colebrook in quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Christian Seeley, sr., p; Nolin Stevens, sr., ss; Pete Bickerton, sr., inf; Tom Crowley, sr., of; Sean McClure, jr., 3b/p; Casey Lane, so., p/c; Jake LeVert, so., inf; Cody Johnson, so., of.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Shane Partridge, Niel Brennen, Owen McGettigan, Owen Hughes, Dylan Cuddihy, Brandon Gaidmore, Ty Carrier, Trey Carrier.
COACH’S COMMENTS: "We hope to do better than last year," Finch said. "We lost two one-run games to state runner-up Sunapee and split with state champ PCA (Portsmouth Christian Academy). Pitching will make or break us."