'Canes taking it one step at a time
The last couple of years have been tough for the Warwick Vets baseball team, and there’s no telling just yet what this season will bring.
But as of now, on the heels of a 2-16 season last year and a 3-15 campaign the year before, the team just wants to get its footing and start playing solid, fundamental baseball.
That’s the message under first-year head coach Nolan Landy, who takes over for former coach Dave Croll, who resigned in the off-season after seven years in the dugout.
Landy, a former player at Pilgrim who coached the Vets freshman team for the past three years, is still getting his own footing as well, as he tries to decide how to best utilize the players on his roster to get the most out of them.
And despite a new coach and some positional uncertainties in the early season shuffle, the ’Canes have put in the effort to try to turn the corner.
“They know what to expect,” Landy said. “The guys who couldn’t do it aren’t here. Everyone is excited, they’re happy. The energy level has been excellent.”
Plus, even after graduating seven seniors off last year’s team, it’s not as though Vets doesn’t have the pieces to take some big strides forward.
Seniors Kevin Hickey and Shane Johnson will be at the head of the pack on the mound, as they are slotted in to be the team’s top two starters.
“Johnson and Hickey will be our staples on the mound,” Landy said.
There’s also some depth there, as well. Junior Patrick Delsanto should see plenty of time on the mound, as will sophomore Danny Greaves. Sophomore Jarred Cipriano is also in the fold.
On the infield, junior T.J. Boyajian is back at shortstop and figures to be one of the team’s top players both in the field and at the plate.
Senior Bryan O’Mara will be getting the nod at second base, while Delsanto or sophomore Steven Dennis will play third base.
Dennis is also one of the team’s catchers, along with junior Kyle Waters.
At first base, Greaves and Johnson will share time.
“We’re young and we’ve got a lot of things to work on,” Landy said. “Some guys might be playing out of position, so we’ll try to figure it out.”
The outfield is still largely undetermined, though Hickey and junior Anthony Lonczak should be regulars.
“Other than that, we’ll have to figure it out,” Landy said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Offensively, the heart of Vets lineup will feature Boyajian, Hickey, Johnson and Waters, and Landy also mentioned Greaves and Dennis as potential impact hitters.
And the hope is that it won’t stop there.
After having a few players drop from the team in the early going, there are 23 players remaining on the team, and they’re starting to get a much better feel for Landy and the direction he’s hoping to take the team.
“I would say right now, the strength is their character,” Landy said. “These guys want to be here. They’re buying in to what we’re doing.”
Vets last made the playoffs in 2009, when it went 6-12. The last two seasons, even though the win-loss records have been poor, the ’Canes have been competitive with just about every team in Division I when they play.
The next step is turning a few of those close games into wins.
“I would say our goal is just to improve,” Landy said. “We’re still trying to get the pulse of exactly who’s doing what. But I’m happy with what I’ve seen the past two weeks. We just want to continue to build on it.”
Vets will open its regular season on Monday when it travels to Barrington for a 3:45 p.m. game.