The Flood Auto Group Connie Mack team didn’t finish last season quite where it wanted to, losing in the state finals to an upstart Cranston team.
That denied Flood a third consecutive state championship.
But three titles in four years would be a nice way to get back on track.
Flood, which is comprised solely of players from Bishop Hendricken, has another title in mind and is off to a strong start already this summer, winning its first game against Pawtucket 4-2 last Saturday. Kyle Barbato started the game on the mound, pitching five innings, while Christian Travers pitched the final four.
It was the type of start that signals good things down the road. Flood is missing some of its key players because they’re with the Hendricken varsity team that is currently in the state finals, yet it was still able to grind out a victory.
The team will be looking for a whole lot more of that.
“Come playoff time, you’ve got your role and we’re going out there to win it,” Flood manager Bryan Leahey said. “We’ve got that Hendricken target on our backs.”
The team is a combination of rising sophomores, juniors and seniors at Hendricken. In that group are seven returners to the team.
Rising seniors Josh Rego and Rob Fredette lead the way. Both of them are on the varsity team – and currently away from the Connie Mack team because of it – and they’ll be leaned upon heavily. They’ll both catch, while Fredette can also play the outfield and Rego can play first.
Jake Sendley and Travers are both rising seniors coming off junior varsity seasons, and they’re also returning to the team.
Travers is strictly a pitcher, while Sendley plays all over the infield.
The other three returners are all JV players, and rising juniors. Matt Colucci is a pitcher who also plays shortstop, Barbato pitches and plays first and Eric Edwards plays on the infield.
Barbato is also playing for Hendricken’s American Legion team, Senerchia Post 74.
All of those players are familiar with Leahey and how the team works. The rest are going to be feeling it out for the early going.
“We’re basically right now, relying on the basics on what the kids learned from the freshman and JV coaches,” Leahey said. “Just trying to get the coaches to respond well with each other, as to how everyone works, and their strengths and weaknesses. Trying to get a good team chemistry going first.”
And there is plenty of talent among the rest of the team.
Rising junior Christian Aybar saw some varsity time during the spring, and he plays both the infield and the outfield.
Other rising juniors on the team are Rob Montagano, Armani Henderson, Christian Maselli and Coltin Perras. All of those players played on JV last year. Montagano is a pitcher and outfielder, Maselli is a catcher and first baseman and Perras is a pitcher and outfielder.
Henderson should be a big part of Flood’s success, as he will play the outfield and likely hit somewhere in the middle of the order.
“He’s a very good hitter, and he’s made some stellar defensive plays with the JV team this year,” Leahey said. “Hopefully he brings that over to us.”
Everyone else on the team is a rising sophomore and played on one of Hendricken’s two freshman teams over the spring. That group includes pitchers Matt Kennedy, Peter Thomas, Joe Maynard and Caleb Wurstur, all of whom also can play in the field.
“We’re just hoping that they continue their development and they can help the future of the program,” Leahey said.
Also in that group is Dante Baldelli, who had a strong freshman season and figures to be a fixture in Flood’s lineup.
“He’ll definitely be a big catalyst for us this year during the summer,” Leahey said of Baldelli.
The other players are Colin McBride, who can catch and play first, Justin Gist, who plays first and the outfield, Brendan Conley, who pitches and can play in the infield or outfield, Andrew Almonte, an infielder, and Mike Kiernan, a pitcher, outfielder and infielder.
Everybody will get playing time in the early part of the summer before Leahey settles on a lineup that he thinks can help lead Flood back to another title.
It won’t be easy, especially with the team’s reputation as an annual contender, but Flood is planning on embracing the challenge.
“Everyone is basically gunning for us, all the time,” Leahey said.