Published in the April 5, 2017 edition


LYNNFIELD — As the last vestiges of snow begin to melt away on the streets, sidewalks, lawns and ball fields of the Northeast, the baseball team is gearing up for another season on the diamond.

Last year, the Pioneers, led by head coach John O’Brien, made a deep tournament run. Lynnfield fell 5-1 to North Reading in the Division 3 North Finals.

While the team graduated some key players, Lynnfield returns this season with 10 seniors, which makes them an experienced, veteran group.

“We’re looking to make another run,” said O’Brien. “But it’s a question of, ‘are we going to be ready to go when the chances arise?’ The guys have got to rise to the challenge. We lost some really good players last year, so we’re hoping that some of the new guys are going to pick up the slack.”

Among the players that will be called upon to pick up that slack will be O’Brien’s four senior captains: Shortstop Justin Juliano, third basemen Mike Stellanto, catcher Bryant Dana and pitcher Nick Aslanian.

Besides maybe centerfield, you’d be hard pressed to come up with more important positions on the diamond to which O’Brien has assigned his captains. With the Pioneers starting seniors all over the field, the goal of winning the Cape Ann League seems reachable. An excellent offensive team last season, O’Brien thinks the turnover will go smoothly.

“The kids that are back from last year are working hard,” said O’Brien. “Some of the arrivals have blended in well. I think my captains have done a nice job so far (dealing with) the weather here lately. They’ve done a nice job in preparation.”

Lynnfield’s first regular season test comes against Arlington Catholic, on Saturday, April 8 at 12 p.m. at Lynnfield High School. The teams met last May, and Arlington Catholic edged the Pioneers 2-1.