TOWNSHEND -- The Rebels baseball team has been putting in a lot of time on their home field in preparation for their opening game, scheduled for Tuesday, April 22, when they’ll host Green Mountain. Leland & Gray head coach, Eric Durocher, can’t wait to see what his up-and-coming players have to offer to the recognized program.
"I’m pretty optimistic about the upcoming season," he said. "I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at winning some games. It’s kind of a new team, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all comes together."
Bringing things together is something Durocher is quite familiar with. He’s a technical thinker. On, and away, from the diamond.
Durocher is dedicated to his craft, and we’re not just talking about the title he holds on the team. He’s a sound and music specialist too.
He and Sonic Circus, a New England-based company that deals in new and vintage pro audio equipment, just picked up a studio recording console from out west that once belonged to heavy metal legends Metallica. Durocher’s group fixes up and resells the equipment to aspiring musicians and producers.
The hours are long and tiring, so baseball comes as a relief to Durocher. Still, keeping the new team a formidable force in the league will be no easy task. Leland & Gray graduated seven seniors last year, six of which were starters for the 2013 team.
"Anytime you lose that many quality baseball players, it can be hard to replace them," said Durocher. "But a lot of the younger guys are stepping up into those spots."
A core of juniors and a few seniors will lead the crew this time around, including senior Adam Beattie, who will probably start on the mound, and junior Josh Donna, who will also hurl from the hill.
"I’ve got a few arms," said Durocher. "Beattie can throw the ball hard, and it’s only his first year playing varsity. Donna will also see quite a bit of pitching time."
Durocher said he is always impressed with fresh players and their abilities, and this year is no exception.
"There’s a couple of players who have tried out for positions that I didn’t think they would be able to play," he said. "I have someone who has only ever played outfield who has stepped into the shortstop position. And he’s making it look pretty easy."
That shortstop is Owen Beattie, who should make a splash this year, according to Durocher. Beattie will share duties at SS with junior captain Ryan Borgesen.
As for the rest of the infield, returnee Nick Bills will cover third, first-year sophomore Nick Morrow will take care of 1B, and team captain Corey Nystrom will be the team’s second baseman.
With a large roster, the Rebels have been scrimmaging each other for the past few weeks as their playing surface has slowly recuperated.
"We haven’t had an opportunity to see how fast our infield is, so it’s nice to get them out there with a runner going down the line," said the L&G coach.
The outfield will be comprised of "super-fast" sophomore Jeremy Bovat, who can direct the ball well in a pinch, senior center-fielder Kevin Young, and junior Jake Topping.
"I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I know where my players belong," said Durocher. "When you watch them play long enough, you get to know their strengths and weaknesses."
The Rebs had a nice run during the Division 3 tournament last season, finishing up with a 15-3 record, falling to top-seeded BFA in the semis by a mere run.
L&G roster: Coaches -- Eric Durocher, Brandon Reilly. Players -- Freshmen: Bryce Karg, Willie Bush, Walker Hamer, Sam Gleason. Sophomores: Nick Morrow, Max Cramp, Vincent Polhemus, Jeremy Bovat, Owen Beattie. Juniors: Corey Nystrom, Ryan Borgesen, Jake Topping, Josh Donna. Seniors: Nick Bills, Kevin Young, Justin Coleman, Adam Beattie, Chris Wilson, Sam Rusthon.