BISHOP EUSTACE CRUSADERS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eustace was hit hard by graduation, as ace pitcher Tyler Phillips—who was 9-0 last year and undefeated for his career—and current Penn State freshman Justin Hagenman were among the departed, along with offensive stars Chris Jones and Nick Browne. Senior catcher Nate Steele, an all-conference second-teamer, is one of the key returners, and senior right-hander Jonathan Cole leads the pitching staff. He spent most of last season as the team’s closer but also tossed seven strong innings and earned the win in the Diamond Classic final against Eastern. Senior center fielder Kevin Lammers and sophomore infielder/outfielder Sky Duff are other returning starters, while juniors Shayne Clowar and Brian Bernetich have varsity experience on the mound and should also contribute to the lineup.
OUTLOOK: The Crusaders finished as South Jersey’s No. 1 team last spring, as they went 24-7 and reached the Non-Public South A final in addition to claiming the Diamond Classic title. It will be hard to stay at that level with so many standouts moving on, but expect this consistent program to remain relevant.
CAMDEN CATHOLIC FIGHTING IRISH
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Jake Mackara is an important part of the rotation and lineup and leads the returners for Camden Catholic. Last year he earned four wins on the mound and belted 10 doubles on his way to all-conference second-team honors. He will continue his career at Millersville University. Another important pitcher is senior Jay Crusemire, who will be the anchor of the staff after striking out 39 in 33 innings pitched last year. Senior infielder Nolan Gerold made the all-conference second team and is one of the big bats for the Irish. Senior outfielder/pitcher Joe Hahn and senior catcher Joe Palumbo are also key hitters, while sophomore Chris Holmes showed promise as a rookie.
OUTLOOK: The Irish have a strong senior class returning from last year’s 13-10-1 team and should once again contend for a winning record.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherokee returns six starters from last year’s sectional finalist, including senior outfielder and three-hole hitter Evan Powell, a three-year starter who hit four home runs last year. A standout football player who will continue his career at Monmouth, Powell suffered a fractured fibula in November but hopes to be healthy for his final baseball season. Senior outfielder/pitcher Hunter Mason—a St. Peter’s recruit—is another big bat in the middle of the lineup, while other senior starters include first baseman Mike Faunt, catcher Mike Borucki, third baseman John Gavura and center fielder Jeff Schick, a defensive whiz. Four of the top six pitchers graduated, but senior Nick Snyder, a West Chester recruit, and junior Jarrad Delarso return to lead the staff.
OUTLOOK: The Chiefs had their second straight solid season last spring, finishing 17-9 and dropping a close game to Williamstown in the South Jersey Group IV final. A veteran core should keep them among the better teams in the area and looking to accomplish more than they did last season.
CHERRY HILL EAST COUGARS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior infielder Jake Babroff has been a varsity player since his freshman year and is the big bat in Cherry Hill East’s lineup. Seniors Zach Volm and Matt Armendinger are other important returners who contribute on the mound and in the everyday lineup. Senior outfielders Vinny Guckin and Kobe Sutherland are other returning starters and senior Andrew Bowen is a returning pitcher.
OUTLOOK: The Cougars will look to bounce back from a 5-18-1 season and contend for a winning record.
CHERRY HILL WEST LIONS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill West graduated a strong senior class but still has a lot of talent, led by Jack Goan. The senior catcher led the team with three home runs on his way to all-conference first-team and all-South Jersey second-team honors. He will continue his career at Iona. Senior infielder Jake Campbell is another important returner who made the all-conference second team and played in the Carpenter Cup with Goan. Senior outfielder/pitcher David Judge had an excellent season at the plate and made the all-conference second team, while other returning starters include senior infielder Michael Wurster and junior outfielder Jake Azar. The pitching staff will need a new ace after the graduation of Jeff Dixon, and the candidates include senior Adam Sachs (four wins) and junior John Stankiewicz. Senior Nick Kieftogiannis is another experienced hurler along with senior Lou Iaconi, who had a strong summer.
OUTLOOK: With five starters back from a team that went 19-9, played in the Diamond Classic for the third time in the last four years and reached the South Jersey Group IV quarters, it looks like another impressive season is on the horizon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Hopes are high at Clearview thanks to a strong group of returners in the lineup and the rotation. Outfielder Trip McCaffrey and shortstop/pitcher Tim Dezzi, both juniors, are coming off impressive sophomore seasons that landed them on the all-conference first team. McCaffrey hit .423 with 20 RBIs, 22 runs and 11 stolen bases, while Dezzi—who has committed to St. John’s—hit .375 with 25 RBIs, 20 runs and 10 steals. Senior DH/pitcher Kenny Mendoza, a Campbell recruit, was an all-conference second- teamer after batting .404 and driving in 20 runs. Senior Drew Ryback leads the pitching staff after recording five wins a year ago, and seniors Mack Gill (4-1) and Ryan Lauk are other important hurlers who have committed to the University of the Sciences and Wagner, respectively. Senior infielder Eric Lauk will join his brother at Wagner and is another returning starter along with senior outfielder Jared Datz and junior infielder Pete Liccio. Other key players include Stockton recruit Austin Bianchi, a senior outfielder; junior catchers Brian Clark and Steve Schanne; and junior pitcher Joe Sponheimer.
OUTLOOK: After reaching the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals and finishing with a 16-9 record, the Pioneers look like contenders in the Tri-County Conference Royal Division.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Eastern graduated five all- conference first-teamers, including its top two pitchers, there is plenty to be excited about, starting with young stars Davis Schneider and Jack Herman. Schneider, a junior infielder, made the all-South Jersey and all-conference first teams after batting .402 with three home runs and 32 RBIs. Herman, a sophomore outfielder/pitcher, was an offensive contributor from his first varsity game and made the all-conference first team. He also won two games on the mound and should be one of the Vikings’ best arms this spring. Another important returner is senior catcher Tyler Travis, an all-conference first-teamer who played in the Carpenter Cup with Schneider and Herman. Seniors Daniel Beebe (two wins) and Mike Skowronek saw limited duty on varsity and could be ready for bigger roles, and other players who will look to earn starting spots include junior infielder Jake Cudeyro and senior outfielder Tommy Katsaros.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings’ 25-6 season included appearances in the Diamond Classic final and the South Jersey Group IV semifinals. They have a number of starting positions to fill, but have the potential for another solid season with Schneider and Herman leading the way.
GLOUCESTER CATHOLIC RAMS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Change is in the air for one of the state’s premier programs, as Gloucester Catholic graduated an outstanding senior class and said goodbye to head coach Mike Rucci, who resigned after three seasons to join the coaching staff at Rowan. The good news for new head coach?Adam Tussey is the return of senior ace Tyler Mondile, who has signed with Florida State but will also be heavily scouted by major league teams this spring. Mondile was an all-South Jersey first- team selection last year, when he went 5-2 with a 1.28 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. He’s also the Rams’ leading returning hitter, as he batted .376 with nine doubles. Eric Grafton, a senior southpaw, will also be counted on in the rotation. Grafton didn’t allow an earned run in 19 innings last year and fin- ished with a 3-0 record. Returning starters in the line- up include senior outfielders Alex Krug (.351 average, 24 runs) and Nick Seccia (21 RBIs). Other returners who could take on bigger roles include seniors Zach VanMeter, Brandon Cunningham and Chris Tolomeo; juniors Adam Bonomo, Angelo DeAngelis, Joe Liscio, Alex Persichetti and Chris Turco; and sophomores Evan Giordano and Nick Nocella.
OUTLOOK: The Rams’ 26-5 record only featured two losses to South Jersey teams; both were to Bishop Eustace, in the Diamond Classic quarterfinals and sectional semifinals. It might take this year’s team a little while to get going with so many new starters, but they’ll be capable of playing with anyone when Mondile is on the mound.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Haddonfield was hit hard by graduation, losing the top five hitters in its lineup and two starting pitchers who combined for 14 wins. Leading the returners is junior third baseman Joe Loperfido, who hit .430 as a sophomore and delivered clutch hits all season long. Loperfido committed to Duke over the summer and is poised to become one of the Bulldawgs’ big hitters in the middle of the lineup. Other returning starters include senior outfielder Tommy Kadar and senior designated hitter/outfielder John Tedeschi. Senior right-hander Sean Ilves returns to the pitching staff and figures to be the ace. Sophomores Ryan Sehdev and Will Gambino, who has made a verbal commitment to The Citadel, should also be key contributors. Other returners looking to make an impact include senior infielder Jack Malady, senior outfielder Frank Meeteer, senior catcher Matt Williams, junior infielder Dan Brown and junior pitcher Nick Dipadova.
?OUTLOOK: The Bulldawgs went 24-5, made the Diamond Classic quarterfinals and advanced to the South Jersey Group II final, dropping a tough 2-1 loss to Buena. While they have a lot to replace from that team, they have good cornerstones in Loperfido and Ilves.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Dragons are paced by a pair of terrific senior pitchers in Zach Listro and Matt Blaszczyk, who each went 5-2 last year to share the team lead in wins. Listro, who also plays in the infield when he’s not pitching, played in the Carpenter Cup and was an all-conference first-teamer, while Blaszczyk was named honorable mention. Sophomore Erick Riley is another important returner who saw time on the mound (2-1) and in the outfield (.318 average) as a freshman. Infielders Ryan Lee, a senior, and Mike Biasiello, a junior, are other returning starters, and Biasiello also went 2-1 on the mound. Other key returners include senior outfielder/catcher Jack Shakespeare and junior outfielder Rob Scanlan.
OUTLOOK: The Dragons finished with a 16-10 record, played in the Diamond Classic and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs. They graduated a large part of their offense but will remain competitive behind their pitching.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Indians have a solid group of veterans and it starts with their pitching staff. Senior Andrew Stagliano led the team with four wins last year, including impressive victories over Bishop Eustace and Cherry Hill West. Senior Eric Tarkett had three wins in 2015, while senior Ben Rodier and junior Mike Audet are other experienced hurlers. Two left-handers also return to the staff in York recruit John Swajkowski, a senior, and Teddy Jozwiak, a junior. Lenape also brings back two big bats in the middle of the line- up in senior outfielder Ryan Shuts and junior outfielder Ben Harris, as well as junior second baseman Tom Gardiner, an all-conference second-teamer who has committed to Maryland. Senior catcher Ryan Bensel is another returning starter and junior Anthony Isopi will also see time behind the plate. Other returners looking to take on bigger roles include senior third baseman Eric Zimmerman and junior outfielders Mike Doulong and Stephen Cotoni, a solid base stealer. Three talent- ed sophomores joining the varsity are infielders AJ Pena and Jake Topolski and outfielder Pat Rush.
OUTLOOK: The Indians struggled down the stretch last spring and finished with a 12-13 record, but they qualified for the Diamond Classic and South Jersey Group IV playoffs. Expect them to remain competitive behind their strong pitching.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Moorestown suffered key losses to graduation and had two important players move out of state in all-conference selection Ryan Gold and pitcher Tommy McCarthy, both seniors. Leading the returners are senior outfielder Brandon Davis, who batted .317, and junior outfielder Brian Gerber, who hit .297 with three home runs. Gerber has commit- ted to the University of Pittsburgh. Junior Alec Ciniglia returns behind the plate and is one of the best defensive catchers in the area. Seniors Ryan McCarthy (first base) and Dane Fante (shortstop) are returning starters in the infield and senior designated hitter/outfielder Ryan Loftus is back as well. Senior Greg Frankel and sophomore Alex Karanjia return to the pitching staff, and newcomers to watch include fresh- man pitcher/infielder/catcher Brian McMonagle and sophomore pitcher/infielder Luke Gutos.
OUTLOOK: The Quakers, who finished with a 12- 9 record and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group III Tournament, will be a team to avoid come playoff time if their pitching develops.
MOORESTOWN FRIENDS FOXES
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Foxes have a solid nucleus led by ace pitcher Mitchell Mullock and shortstop A.J. Dunham, seniors who both made the all-Friends League first team. Mullock, who also plays first base, won six games on the mound, while Dunham led South Jersey with 10 triples and added four doubles. Mitchell’s twin brother, senior center fielder/pitcher Matt Mullock, was a Friends League honorable mention selection after earning four wins and adding four doubles. Senior outfielder/pitcher Alex Ounjian (one home run, four doubles) is another important part of the lineup. Other key returners include senior sec- ond baseman/pitcher Chris Grahn, senior catcher David Borne and senior outfielder Sam Milligan. Sophomores Vishal Doshi (outfield) and Surya Reddy (catcher) are also expected to contribute and freshmen Kyle Eiffes and Jakob Hull could fight for playing time.
OUTLOOK: The Foxes went 17-4, reached the Friends League championship game for the second year in a row and advanced to the South Jersey Non-Public B semifinals. Their strong senior class will keep them among the top teams in their league.
PAUL IV EAGLES
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Eagles are led by senior left-handed pitcher Shane Kubrak, who will continue his career at Wake Forest. An all- conference second-teamer in 2015, Kubrak also plays first base and the outfield when he’s not pitching. Senior outfielder Ryan Duphorn is another key returner who made the all-conference second team. He recently committed to Randolph-Macon College. Senior Kyle Bakely is expected to be a big contributor on the mound, and other returning starters include senior second baseman/shortstop Joe Aurite and junior infielder Richie Giandrea.
OUTLOOK: After finishing 4-12 last year, the Eagles will look to rebuild under their third coach in three years. Brett Young replaces Marc DeCastro, who stepped down after one season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Shawnee brings back almost the entire roster and welcomes in a key transfer, so the Renegades should be much improved this spring. Junior outfielder Greg Albert (one home run, six doubles) and senior catcher Mike Welsh both made the all-conference second team and lead the returners. The pitching staff includes senior Jake Miller—who has committed to SUNY Binghamton—along with senior Jake Guertin and junior Brendan Mulligan, who each won two games last year. The Renegades also have right-hander Sean Heine, a sophomore transfer from Holy Cross who has already committed to Maryland. Other key returners include junior shortstop Max Milano (one home run, three doubles), senior infielders Kevin Gault and Matt Canuso and senior outfielders Grant Wetterau and Mike Casey. Also back are senior pitchers Dean Austin and Zach Amisano, junior second baseman Avery Epstein and junior first baseman Mark Beachy. Three promising newcomers are catcher Colin Wetterau and pitchers Brian Hendry and Dylan Deveney, all sophomores.
OUTLOOK: After posting a 9-13 record and losing in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs, Shawnee looks like a team on the rise with most of its top players returning.
SENECA GOLDEN EAGLES
PLAYERS TO WATCH: There is reason to be excited at Seneca, which brings back most of its starting lineup, including all-conference first-teamers Zach Evans and Wyatt Thomas, both seniors. Evans, the team’s three-hole hitter and third baseman, was second in South Jersey with 14 doubles last year and hit .416 with 22 RBIs to earn all-South Jersey hon- ors. Thomas, a catcher, had a home run and four doubles. Evans and Thomas both played in the Carpenter Cup along with senior center fielder Brett Barnes, an all-conference second-teamer. Sophomore outfielder/first baseman Nick Decker showed great potential as a freshman and has already committed to Maryland, while other returning starters include senior shortstop Brad Jankowski, senior outfielders Randy Roach and Steve Trendler and senior outfielder/DH John Williams. Juniors Scott McNamara and Josh Knapp are important pieces of the pitching staff, and senior pitcher/first baseman John DeSantis will also contribute.
OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles went 9-2 down the stretch—including an extra-inning loss to Delsea in the sectional quarterfinals—to finish with a 13-11 record. That momentum should carry over behind a terrific senior class.
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP MINUTMEN
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Washington Township is led by a pair of juniors who have both played varsity since their freshman year and made the all-conference second team last spring. Right-handed pitcher Rich Racobaldo went 4-3 with a 1.95 ERA and 54 strikeouts as he developed into the team’s ace. The St. John’s recruit also threw a no-hitter and was selected for the Carpenter Cup. Alex Gattinelli, a catcher/out- fielder, hit .337 with eight doubles and 19 runs scored batting mainly out of the two-hole. The Minutemen also return three-hole hitter Tim Seagreaves, a senior first baseman who hit .356 with nine doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs. Senior pitcher Nick Evangelista, a four-year letter winner, is back after missing last season with an injury. He has big-game experience on the mound from his freshman and sophomore seasons. Also back are junior shortstop and leadoff hitter Ryan Swift and senior outfielder and cleanup hitter Nick Grosso. Other returning starters include senior catcher/DH Dylan Baratti, senior outfielder Alex Ruiz and junior second baseman Vinny Fanty. Senior Eric Mastran and junior Dan Tracy are other experienced pitchers.
OUTLOOK: The Minutemen had a rare down year in 2015 but still managed a 12-14 record and made it to the South Jersey Group IV quarterfinals. With most of the team returning, look for a bounce-back year.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 7, Issue 1 (January, 2016).
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