By KEN MORSE
The Blue Devils were at 5-4 in 2017 but finished up at 2-9 marked by a lack of offense that saw four shutout losses and three games where they only put up one run. Last season resulted in a similar scenario when Plainville saw a promising 7-5 start end with an eight game skid as the offense put up just 15 runs over that stretch.
The Plainville baseball team was in the hunt for a state tournament bid the past two season but faltered down the stretch. Back-to-back 7-13 seasons were marked by the same shortcoming, a lack of experience with only five seniors to lead the way. Is that trend about to change?
This year’s Devils come into the campaign with a seasoned lineup of eight seniors and seven juniors the most experience since the 2016 team that went 14-6 under the guidance of eight seniors and nine juniors.
“We are excited about the experience and depth we have coming back,” said Plainville head coach Lou Mandeville as he enters his eighth season at the helm. “That creates a little competition and brings out the best in a team.”
The Blue Devils are eager to get back to their winning ways and will be led by senior captains Brady Callahan and Tyler St. Onge. Last season injuries played a key role as coach Mandeville used a group of freshman and sophomores to fill in some spots.
“We need to be a little more aggressive at the plate swinging from the start,” said Mandeville. “Taking pitches isn’t going to get you nowhere. We need to barrel it up and go with the first good pitch we see.”
Callahan is just that type of hitter at the top of the lineup and with his base running skills he can start a fire in a parking lot. St. Onge is not only a consistent potent bat in the lineup he has flashed the leather down at third base taking away numerous base hits from the hot corner.
When St. Onge went down with an injury last year the team not only struggled at the plate but also in the field. The experience gained by the younger players that filled in will only make Plainville that much stronger this year down the stretch.
Junior Tyler Mandeville (pitcher/first base), senior Tyler Davis (pitcher/second base) and sophomore Alec Couture (pitcher/shortstop) fill out the infield and bring stability to the pitching staff.
Senior catcher Juan Camacho is another sturdy bat in the lineup and his defensive work behind the plate especially throwing out base runners was an asset that didn’t go unnoticed.
Callahan patrols the centerfield gaps alongside senior outfielders Tyler Miller and Ryan Snyder along with junior Lou Passaretti. Juniors Nate Johnson and Brady Beausoleil add quality depth for the Blue Devils.
Juniors Wyatt LaCombe and Tyler Dufour gained experience last season filling the gap in the infield. Sophomore Tyler Bonney will also look to push for playing time.
On the mound Plainville will look to seniors Alec Karal and Alex Grabowski as experienced leaders on the bump. Junior Mason Sarra and sophomore Christian Collin have also shown their prowess on the hill last year.
“We have some depth in our pitching staff,” said Mandeville. “They are not over powering guys but they know how to mix it up and get hitters off balance. They have experience and they know how to hit their spots.”
Plainville will get the season underway on Wednesday April 3 at Bristol Eastern and will finish out the first week at home against Bristol Central on Friday.