Last season, the Bishop Hendricken baseball team watched its bid for a fourth consecutive state championship fall short with an upset loss to Middletown in the regional finals. The Hawks tipped their caps that day, and with more than a dozen players set to return, they started looking ahead.
This season is what they had their eye on.
“We had a real good season last year,” said Hendricken head coach Ed Holloway. “We just fell short against a good Middletown team. I give them credit. They out-played us when they had to. We’re back and we’ll give it our best shot this year.”
That best shot should be a pretty good one.
The Hawks lost six players to graduation, including standout hitters Ethan Ferreira and Zach Conte, but last year’s team was built around its juniors. That class burst onto the scene in the 2010 championship season, with several players doing big things as sophomores.
They’re now seniors, and five have already committed to play college baseball, four at the Division I level. Before they take that next step, though, they’d like to leave Hendricken on top.
“I think they’re focused,” Holloway said. “They want to give it their best shot to have a chance to go out with a great season. They seem focused and ready to start playing.”
Pitching shapes up as Hendricken’s biggest strength this season. Senior Bobby Indeglia, a right-hander who has committed to Holy Cross, has been the ace of the Hawks’ staff since his sophomore year and should pick up where he left off at the top of the rotation. Fellow senior Tom Pannone, who is also one of the team’s top hitters and has committed to the University of Miami as an outfielder, will be a key part of the rotation as well.
Senior Nick Bourdeau – another pitcher who has seen innings since his sophomore year – will also be a key piece to the puzzle, and junior Mike King, who pitched well as a sophomore and had a strong summer in American Legion ball, is ready for bigger things this year.
The Hawks will try to develop their depth, as well. Seniors Justin Finan, Jerre Dean and C.J. Maderios are in line to get some innings, along with juniors Bobby Lineberger and Jake Newberry.
“If they’re all healthy, we should be very strong on the mound,” Holloway said. “And they’re experienced. The first three guys have been here since their sophomore year pitching varsity. Mike King had some good moments as a sophomore and had a very good summer for the legion team. I think he’s one of the top juniors in the state.”
Success on the mound won’t just come from the arms, either. Holloway thinks the Hawks will have a very strong defense, especially with three starters returning on the infield.
“I think our strength will be our pitching and defense,” Holloway said.
At the plate, the Hawks will try to shake off some of the struggles they had last year. They scored their share of runs but didn’t always come through with the big hits when they needed them.
A veteran lineup is ready to deliver this season.
Behind the plate, the Hawks have senior Billy Walker returning for his fourth year as a starter. A Wake Forest signee, Walker will likely anchor the middle of the order for the Hawks.
Senior Mike Thomas and junior Jarek Krajewski are also in the mix for time at catcher.
Senior P.J. Murray, who has committed to Brandeis, returns as a starter at first base. He’ll be pushed by Krajewski and Maderios.
Up the middle, the Hawks have three players with experience, and all of them can play multiple positions. Senior Rich Bacon, who’s headed to Albany, was the starting shortstop last year. Senior Reed Gamache, who has signed with Binghamton, was the starting second baseman.
Those two are joined by junior Lou Umberto, who had a strong summer in legion ball. All three can also play third base.
“Those three will all see playing time,” Holloway said. “We have a lot of versatility there.”
At third base, the Hawks will have to replace Ferreira, who’s now at Harvard. Three players are in the mix to step up – Finan and juniors Ed Markowski and Matt Murphy. Markowski and Murphy can also play second base.
In the outfield, Pannone will likely start in center, with Indeglia in right field when he’s not pitching. King will also play in the outfield when he’s not pitching. Senior Pat Brindamour and juniors Rob Henry and Gary Geisser are competing for time as well.
In all, the Hawks like the way their lineup shakes out.
“I think we’re going to score some runs,” Holloway said. “I think that’s where we fell short last year. We’re going to try and improve on that and be better this year.”
Based on how last season ended, being better this year is a pretty good overall goal, as well. And it’s one the Hawks are ready to chase.
“We have 14 guys back from last year’s team, so we have a lot of experience,” Holloway said. “We’re hoping and expecting a good season. Luck’s involved too. You’ve got to be lucky. I think we’ve got a good team. We’ve got high hopes.”
Hendricken opens the season on Monday at East Providence.