Dodgers primed for strong summer

The New England Independent Baseball League has been around since earlier this decade when it replaced New Hampshire Senior Babe Ruth’s Southern League. But each summer brings at least slight changes to the list of teams which compete in the wood bat league.

And the 2019 campaign will feature some six contingents, including Hollis Brookline Dodgers. League play began this week with HB knocking off ConVal, 4-1, in the opener.

Hollis Brookline is joined by the Souhegan Valley Mutts after several years out of the New England wood bat loop. The other four NEIBL teams this summer are the Concord Capitals, Con-Val Nashua and the Weare Nationals.

Hollis Brookline’s Dodgers, who went 5-8 during the 2018 NEIBL season, are led by coach Justin Roberts and include athletes from three area towns.

“We’re really looking forward to the season. Much like previous seasons, we have a wide variety of players, both of different ages and from different towns,” said coach Roberts. “We have players from middle school, high school, and college. We have JV and varsity players. We have players from Hollis Brookline, Milford, and Bedford. That’s the great part about the Dodgers. No matter the age or the town, the players embrace each other and become a family. I don’t see this team being any different. All of these players want to help each other, want to get better, and most importantly, want to have fun and play baseball.”

Among the Dodger players who have previously donned Hollis Brookline High Cavaliers’ uniforms are Mitch Dreyer (P/IF/OF), Jimmy Park (P/IF), Charlie Hale (P/OF), Cam Guay (P/2B), Martin Bergeron (IF/OF), Gavin Knudsen ( P/ F), J.P. Blasi (P/3B/OF), Kyle Hsu (C/IF/OF), Joe Brown (P/IF), Tyler MacDormand (P/C/OF), Nate Sartell (versatile), Justin Lemos (IF/OF), Torin White (C/IF), and Zach Sommer (versatile).

The players from outside the host town are Milford’s Brandon Shaw (versatile) and Bedford residents Ben Jackson and Ben Hawkins (both IF/OF).

“I’ve had the pleasure to coach many of the returners, I am looking forward to continuing coaching some from the high school season, and I look forward to coaching those I’ve never worked with before,” said coach Roberts.

The returning Souhegan Valley squad will be coached by Tom Walker, who just completed his first season as the head hardball guy at Souhegan High School.

“This is a league for players who don’t want to play AAU and who can’t commit to a full Legion schedule to come out and play some summer ball,” said Walker.

When he peruses his 2019 roster, Walker sees a bunch of athletes from his Souhegan High program as well as players from Milford, Pelham, Mont Vernon, Merrimack, and even a few from Massachusetts. And the squad has several players who are already in or are about to begin college.

Current or former Souhegan student-athletes include Kyan Bagshaw (P/IF/OF), Riley Carr (C/IF/OF), Reese Colby (OF), Brandon Dufour (C/OF/1B), Dylan Dufour (P/IF), Beth Greenwood (C/IF), Bobby Henline (versatile), Ryan Humphrey (P/IF), David Reith (P/IF), and Matt Zifchak (IF/OF).

Over from Pelham are versatile Justin Corbett, Colby Walsh, and Zach Jones, Milford’s Brady Mason (IB/OF) will also wear Souhegan Valley garb this summer, Mont Vernon’s Colin O’Brien (IF) is in the fold, recent Merrimack High graduate Jared Wells (P/OF) is with the Mutts, and Groton-Dunstable (Mass.) High School grads and brothers Jacob and Jesse Dutile will look to aid the Mutts’ cause as well.

The Dutiles, Greenwood, O’Brien, Wells, and Zifchak are or will soon be college students.

Coach Walker, who will be assisted in coaching by Matt Zifchak’s dad Chris, is excited to see what his Mutts’ mob can do during the 2019 summer season.

“I like what we have. I think this is going to be an interesting team to watch,” said the head coach.