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Joyce Endee

New Durham new home of the Knights

Kingswood baseball team will play home games at Elmer Smith Field this season

JEFF RUNNALS will be counted on as the ace of the Kingswood pitching staff this spring. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 12, 2010
WOLFEBORO — It's always nice to start off the season against three big local rivals.

However, veteran Kingswood baseball coach Chip Skelley might feel a bit more comfortable if his team had a little more time on the field before the season began.

With the Kingswood fields being torn up as part of the renovation of the entire high school and middle school complex renovation, the Knights are without a home field for practices and will play their games at the Elmer Smith Field in New Durham.

"Most everything we've done has been in the gym," Skelley said. "It'd be nice to have a week of practice outside, but no excuses, it is what it is.

"If you can't get up for Plymouth, Laconia and Kennett, then you shouldn't be playing," he added.

He noted, that against solid teams like his squad will face in the opening week, it's always nice to have extra practice under your belt, since the games usually come down to execution.

The Knights have been outside only twice, once on the field at Tuftonboro Central School and once at Camp Belknap, though neither place provides a full high school diamond with which to work.

Additionally, the team played scrimmages at Exeter and at Winnisquam to help prepare for the new season.

The Knights will be returning a solid core of players, but a number of those players will be in different positions than they were in last year, making communication a key aspect of the game, one that Skelley knows his team has to work on during outdoors practices.

Jeff Runnals, with a no-hitter under his varsity belt, will get the bulk of the pitching assignments for the Knights this season. The senior righty was a key cog in the pitching rotation that helped the Knights pick up 11 wins last season.

"We expect him to pick up the yeoman's share of starts for us," Skelley noted.

Sophomore Slayd Dore and junior Tom Melnik have also been working on the hill and both are expected to see some time for the Knights, though neither has much varsity pitching experience.

Melnik, a lefty, threw against Exeter in a scrimmage in the late preseason and looked solid and Dore, while not overpowering, will be around the plate and will throw strikes.

Tim Campbell has also been working as a pitcher and the coaches are hoping to drop his arm angle a bit, something they expect will make him more affective.

The Knights lost catcher Nate Gonya to graduation and two sophomores and a junior are battling for that position. Junior Dave Hersey played on the varsity team the last two years and if he's not catching, will see time at first base. Sophomores Pat Smith and Cole Swancott are also in the mix for the catching slot.

Melnik, Campbell and Hersey are all in the mix at first base, while on-base machine Matt Mangum will return to the second base position that he made his own last season.

Dore and Runnals will split time at shortstop and in the early going, Skelley has a number of kids looking to lock down a starting job at third base.

Returning players Dave Harrigan and Phil Erwin should cover plenty of ground in the outfield, as both have good speed.

"They'll take care of left and center," Skelley said, though not completely sure which would play which in the first part of the season.

A number of kids were vying for a spot in right field as well, with no set decision in place

One highlight of the season will be a game at Merchantsauto.com Stadium in Manchester, the home of the Fisher Cats. The Knights and Souhegan will face off in that game on May 7. In order to play in that contest, the team will be selling tickets to a May 31 Fisher Cats game and vouchers that can be used for tickets to any game.

Anyone interested in helping the team play at the Manchester ballpark should see any of the players in the coming weeks.

The Knights' home for the season, Elmer Smith Field, is located in New Durham. Follow Route 28 south out of Wolfeboro. At the Alton traffic circle, follow Route 11 east toward New Durham. At the four-way intersection (at Johnson's Seafood and Steak), take a left onto Main Street. At the stop sign take another left and continue past the fire station. The field is located on the left before the bridge over the Merrymeeting River.

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