Boys Spring Sports Preview
Joe Taft, Veritas Sports Editor
Except for an untimely snowstorm right at the beginning of tryouts, the weather is dramatically better than it was months ago. It is finally time to get out of the gym and out onto a field.
That means that Rockland’s spring team’s are preparing for yet another competitive season. Baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, and track are all going to be battling for league titles.
Rockland baseball has not made the tournament since 2012 when they suffered a first-round loss to Apponequet. Since then, the teams have been competitive, but have been hard-pressed to find a playoff spot due to the tough competition of the South Shore League and Division Three South.
This year however, the boys find themselves in a good spot for a change.
“I’d say yes, we’re in a good spot,” junior catcher Chris McHugh told The Veritas in an interview before the season. “Other teams in the league have a lot going on, so we’re gonna take advantage of that.”
As McHugh said, East Bridgewater graduated a lot of talent last year, as well as Abington. EB is also looking at a new head-coaching situation. Meanwhile, the Dogs have six returning players, and all of them are starters.
Led by senior centerfielder Stephen Norris, last year’s SSL batting champion, the Bulldogs will look to score a lot of runs with a high-powered offense.
Senior outfielder Riley Lang is back after a breakout season last year, as well as myself, junior catcher Joe Taft. McHugh will have a big part in the team’s’ success this season at and behind the plate.
Seniors pitcher Harrison Shields and shortstop Tyler Murphy, are ready to lead the team to a league title.
The Dogs open up at Adams Field in North Quincy on April 4, and play the home opener on April 7 against Monomoy.
The boys lacrosse team looks to continue to grow the program even larger this spring, as they began playing at the varsity level just a few years ago. The Veritas spoke to junior co-captain Matt Dunn about how the team will fare.
“I think we will have a better year than the last few years,” Dunn said. “We have a lot of returning talent and some great freshmen coming in. There are a lot of wins on the horizon.”
The young talent is something to watch out for in the next couple years. Sophomore Matt O’Brien will also look to add to his high-school resume, after scoring over 50 points last year. The freshmen coming up have great knowledge of the game.
“The team is full of kids that have been around since the inception of youth lax. I see it as a huge gain,” said Dunn.
Dunn is a three sport athlete, and he is just coming off a hockey tournament run. The Veritas asked him how he makes the transition from hockey to lacrosse.
“It’s not too bad because hockey is so demanding. The biggest thing is getting used to being on a field instead of being on skates. Other than that I’ll be just fine.”
After a difficult last couple of years, the team will be on the hunt for as many wins as they can find.
Jim Patton who has been the boys tennis team’s coach for the past thirty years, is excited about the upcoming season.
“We have a nice group coming back,” he said.
The team will have five solid seniors and some promising freshmen, one of whom played last year as an eighth grader. There are also some up and coming sophomores and juniors.
“We will have four very good doubles teams, so needless to say, there will be plenty of challenges at practices,” said Mr. Patton.
Back this year is Owen Mahoney, an all-star for the past two years. He will be the top singles player. Jared Ochenduszko will be in the top singles group again this year as well.
After so many years as the coach, Mr. Patton is especially grateful for the “beautiful courts” that the team can practice and play on.
Unlike years past, the players can spread out and best of all, in matches, more players can compete. “We tell teams to bring all their players,” said Mr. Patton. This obviously helps to build the program as the younger players get to play as well as the regular singles and doubles teams.
As far as their standing in the league, Mr. Patton is realistic. “We strive to be at the top of the middle behind Cohasset and Norwell, two teams that are perennially strong.”
He explained that this is not to say they don’t compete with the top teams. In fact, he said they had some very close matches with both teams last year.
Head Coach Mark Killinger had his runners out on March 22 after a one day delay due to the snowstorm.
Seniors Shane Darcy and Levi Sahn are expected to do big things in track this spring according to assistant coach, Robert Murphy. Darcy is a top long jumper and also excels at the triple jump and the 200. Sahn will compete in the high jump and various running events.
The pressure is on to replace all-scholastic, Justin Nguyen who qualified for States last year on his very first jump.
Matt Rocha is another runner expected to get some notice. He will be competing in the half mile as are sophomores Ryan Struzziery and Josh Slack who run the 2 mile.
Sophomore Jonathan Barr is expected to contribute with his speed while freshmen Joey Yeadon and Chris Strickland may contribute in the javelin, shot put and discus.
The team opens the season against Norwell on April 4.