Published April 11, 2019
By DAN PAWLOWSKI
NORTH READING — It’s a style of team and baseball that could be considered in vogue.
But just so we’re clear, the NRHS baseball program has had this philosophy for quite some time.
True unity as a team depends on one singular mentality: each action must benefit the group.
Red Sox fans saw it first hand last year. The success of one player was often due to the actions of a teammate behind the scenes.
It’s a unique concept for a sport like baseball that might seem individual on the surface.
“Our biggest goal this year is to play together as a team,” said Hornet head coach Eric Archambault. “All 17 members of our team as well as our two managers play an integral role in our success. As a team, we set goals at the beginning of the year with a primary emphasis being on things that we can control such as hustle, attitude, effort and being supportive teammates.”
The Hornets are coming off a season in which they finished 15-7 overall and made another trip to the Div. 3 North Tournament where they beat Weston before falling to rival Lynnfield 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
Back this season are a strong group of eight seniors (Ryan Connor, Alex D’Ambrosio, Andrew Giannattasio, Matt Capozzoli, Ryan Veneziano, Cole Doke, Matt Solecki and Aidan Wyatt) and seven juniors (Jimmy Currier, Chris Gwozdz, Jack Keller, Mario Perrone, Cam Randazzo, Demitri Boulas and Joey Frammartino).
Most teams rely on their seniors to be leaders for just one season. Part of the recent success of the NR baseball program on and off the field is the fact that these upperclassmen are used to that role. Leadership is expected whether you’re a varsity veteran like Connor or a sophomore like Frank Cassarino trotting into Carey Park donning a varsity jersey for the very first time. The expectations are the same.
“If we want to be successful as a team we need every member of our team to show leadership qualities at different points throughout the season,” said Archambault.
It’s why the Hornets don’t name captains.
“Often times, when there are captains, the players who aren’t captains don’t step up into the leadership roles that we know they are capable of and instead the team relies on two or three players for all of the leadership. I have been thrilled with the leadership I have seen so far this preseason from sophomores to seniors.”
North Reading returns plenty of talent defensively, at the dish and on the hill.
The Hornets will count on Connor, Keller, Doke and Currier on the mound this season which should create a solid place to start for a team that always values pitching and defense.
“Pitching should be a strength for us,” said Archambault. “If our pitchers throw strikes and we play the defense we are capable of playing I think we will be just fine.”
Offensively, the Hornets have a lot of returning quality hitters like D’Ambrosio, Keller, Connor, Veneziano and Solecki. This year, NR appears to have the depth from top to bottom that will put pressure on opposing defenses all game.
“I think we have the potential to have a very deep lineup this year,” said Archambault. “We have a lot of good hitters in this program and are excited to see how it all plays out.”
Getting check marks in the preseason never guarantees success, even for a program showing positive signs for the things they value like attitude and effort.
It’s a season-long mission and process that the group has to fall in love with. Focus on the little things, every practice, every game, every pitch.
If they do, Hornet fans better clear their calendars for June.