Lakers baseball looks to build off 10-win season
|Senior shortstop Josh Guilmette (white jersey) will help lead the Lakers both offensively and defensively this spring. File Photo. (click for larger version)|
April 11, 2011MEREDITH – Coaches around the Lakes Region are talking about the Inter-Lakes High School baseball team this spring, and for good reason. The Lakers, fresh off a 10-7 season that saw the team drop a tough 2-0 decision to Berlin in the postseason, have a nice arsenal of weapons to choose from in 2011.
"We were very proud of last season," recalled I-L coach Vint Choiniere, entering his fifth season in Meredith. "It was the most victories in a single season in school history and the kids worked hard to get there. The program had been down for a long time so we were very proud of that accomplishment."
With 12 returning players back this year, the Lakers hope they can improve on that win total this time around, despite losing leadoff hitter and third baseman Mitchell Petitti to graduation.
Likely leading the way will be sophomore pitcher Brandon Krueger, who was the ace of the I-L staff as a freshman. Krueger, a lefty, posted four wins last year to go along with a sparkling 1.47 ERA, good enough for second team all-state honors. He also chipped in a .400 batting average at the plate.
"I've been coaching for over 30 years at the high school and college level and he had probably the best freshman season of anyone I've ever coached," praised Choiniere. "Needless to say, we're going to be relying on him for most of the big matchups against the top programs."
Krueger has three pitches in his repertoire, and despite not being a power pitcher, is able to keep opposing batters off balance.
"Very few kids his age can feature three pitches but I think he will be able to throw his fastball, curveball and changeup with confidence," explained Choiniere. "He relies on location but he's a good athlete and he also fields his position well."
Senior Sam Baker returns for his fourth year on varsity and should be the number two starter for I-L. The lefty posted three victories and a 1.24 ERA as a junior, and should play a major role on the pitching staff. Junior Brian Borders pitched significant innings on the JV team last year after practicing full-time with the varsity squad, and Choiniere hopes that experience will be beneficial as he becomes a major varsity contributor this spring. Sophomore Mitchell Jurius will handle relief duties for the Lakers, as well as an occasional emergency start when needed.
Jurius will handle the bulk of the catching responsibilities, and despite not having a ton of experience at the position, he has done a nice job handling whatever has been thrown his way so far.
The infield looks to be crowded with several Lakers hoping to crack the lineup. Baker returns to first base after seeing plenty of time there last year, while junior Hayden Jurius has also been working at first. Senior Dave Gagnon is a returning starter at second base and was steady at that spot a year ago while junior Jon Petitti returns and will spend time at second and third base.
If there's a highlight reel in the infield, it very well may be senior shortstop Josh Guilmette, who enters his fourth year with the varsity program. The first team all-state selection batted .400 last year and led the Lakers in nearly every offensive category.
"He's going to play a major role in our success this year," said Choiniere. "He's made some of the most spectacular plays I've seen at shortstop so we're looking for him to be as consistent as he can with all the other plays."
Sophomore Willie True has looked impressive so far with his glove at third base, and he and Petitti are vying for the starting spot.
The outfield slots are wide open according to Choiniere, with senior Alex Butcher-Nesbitt the most experienced of the bunch as a four-year starter in right field. Junior Conor Langille joined the varsity team halfway through last season after being called up from JV and batted over .300 with the big club. Senior Alex Candage played a lot of center field last year and returns, as does classmate Nick Sapack who adds some speed to the lineup. Fellow seniors Logan Brown and Eliot Johnson are also in the outfield discussion.
Choiniere, who lauded volunteer assistant Dan Curnyn for his contributions, looks forward to watching this particular group play every day this season.
"The thing I'm most excited about is that this team has the most positive group of guys I've been around since I started here at Inter-Lakes and that has me excited," the coach said. "I think that'll carry us a long ways, based on attitude alone."