By ALEX SPONSELLER The New England Frozen Lemonade American Legion baseball team has emerged as a contender throughout the regular season, which concludes this week. After a down stretch across multiple years, NEFL made a comeback last season and
The New England Frozen Lemonade American Legion baseball team has emerged as a contender throughout the regular season, which concludes this week.
After a down stretch across multiple years, NEFL made a comeback last season and advanced to the semifinals, where it would fall to Cranston’s Gershkoff Auto.
NEFL returned a large core from last season, and infused some new talent, and is currently sitting in second place in the standings with a 12-6 record as the postseason looms.
“I expected it and the guys expected to be in the top four, especially now seeing what we’re up against. We knew going into the season, with the pitching that we have set up, that we would be tough to beat. We’ve had some tough losses, but we hung with (first-place) Upper Deck … they are beatable and we hung with them,” said NEFL manager Michael Fratus. “I think any team at given point, any team in the league is beatable, including us, so we have to stay on top of it.”
Fratus has been pleased with his returning standouts, including Blake Roberge and Jeremiah Mullane.
“Blake Roberge has definitely been a standout, he’s 6-1 (as a pitcher), hits fourth in the lineup, and is hitting (nearly) .400. Jeremiah Mullane has had a great offensive season and has moved all around the infield, he’s typically catcher and first base but we’ve used him all over. Those are two guys that really stand out. The outfield too, you can put the entire outfield out there defensively, whoever we have put out there has been unbelievable,” said Fratus, who has also enjoyed watching the team chemistry grow throughout the summer. “We’ve had some great veteran leadership. We have a strong group of young guys coming through, and the veterans mesh with them very well. We have great team chemistry,” said Fratus.
After coming close to reaching the championship last season, the returning players have been hungry to take the next step and compete for a title in the coming weeks.
“The guys that have returned, since day 1 they have been like, ‘let’s go get it.’ We had a good shot at winning it all last year but fell to Gershkoff, we felt that we were a pitcher away. With the additions that we made this year, the kids were excited. I have 16 players that are ready to go,” said Fratus.
Fratus is excited to see NEFL undergo a revival over the past two seasons in Warwick.
“I think teams know who we are now, they know that we aren’t to be messed with. I think people in town are finally starting to see that New England Frozen Lemonade is starting to make a comeback between last year and this year,” said Fratus. “We just need to maintain the status quo, I really don’t have any concerns, the focus is just going to be staying healthy. We are in a good rhythm right now, so we just need to maintain it.”