Spring sports are in full swing

The baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, and tennis seasons have hit the fields. Read on for a quick run-down on what's happening.

Indre Zalepuga, Editor in Chief

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The spring sports season has already seen its first practices and for some, the opening games. From the track, to the baseball field, to turf, each day after school, both middle and high school students head down to the Moore Athletic Complex for their practices. Spring sports include: baseball, softball, lacrosse, softball, crew, tennis and track and field.

Baseball:

“Baseball is also looking forward to another successful season. With two new transfer pitchers and a lineup that is only missing three seniors who graduated, the Falcon baseball team plans to contend for a District title,” said Lenny Paoletti, Director of Athletics.

The team’s head coach, Scott Sauerbeck, said that he expects the team to go out every game and compete together as teammates and win, regardless of who they’re playing. “We understand that we will not win every game, but the boys understand that they will embrace the competition, especially from those teams that are better than them on paper and find ways to win together as a unit regardless of who we are playing,” Sauerbeck said.

Sauerbeck said that the Falcon’s team is one of the youngest in the county. On February 22, they had their season opener and the starting nine players consisted of two juniors, five sophomores and two freshman and they won 15-4.

“There is a physicality to baseball, where normally the older players are simply bigger, stronger, and faster, and it is hard for the younger players to keep up physically. That being said, all of our young players started last year amazingly; they are battle tested and I expect them to win without fielding any seniors and only two juniors every game,” Sauerbeck said.

The team was 15-10 last year, but their district this year will be tougher. However, Coach Sauerbeck still expects them to compete for a district title once again. “Our best moment from last year was our six-game winning streak to end the season. We were 9-9 after Spring Break with our last six games being toss-ups, whether we won them or not, and I challenged the kids to finish 15-10,” Sauerbeck continued. “We talked about it everyday and played our best baseball down the stretch during that winning streak, where every game we won was a nail biter or an extra-inning comeback win.”

One can only hope that this season will be just as successful as the previous one, especially as they will be in a more “competitive and challenging 8-team district where 7 of the 8 teams have a legitimate chance to win the district title and are all evenly matched,” Sauerbeck explained. “All of our district match ups are very important and are usually hard fought and well played games. We always look forward to playing ODA and BCS both as district and neighborhood rivals and this year will be no different.”

Some key players to watch out for this season include Niko Piccolo- right handed pitcher/third base, Ben Tobio- catcher, Mike Madigan-shortstop and Caleb Eyre- right handed pitcher/right field.

Softball:

“Softball is looking forward to building on the success they had from last year. With three pitchers sharing the duties on the mound and a seasoned catcher behind the plate, softball plans to contend for a District title.

The Falcons are returning all but one senior from the starting lineup”

— Coach Paoletti

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The team’s head coach Mike Verrill said that this season, the team will heavily depend on the three junior captains: LeNae Jones, Claudia Sbaschnik and Sydney Ashley. “All three are 300-plus hitters and led our team last year in hits, RBI and runs scored,” Coach Verrill said. In addition three new players were added to the roster this year, and other key players will be freshmen Amy Woodworth and Julia Dodge as pitchers, Emma Craig as a catcher and a top hitter, as well as freshmen Kat Murphy, Kaylee Albrecht and Hailey Hirter who will also be big hitters for the Falcons.

The team’s toughest competition in 3A District 3 will come from Northside Christian and Indian Rocks, since both traditionally have very good teams. “We will compete against the rest of the district but must do well against these two teams to win it all. Last season we went 8-13 overall, but we look for 10 out of 12 district games to be wins this season and overall to be close to a 14-15 win season,” Coach Verrill explained. “We have high expectations this year and with the improvements made our the off-season we feel we will be a contender for the district championship and go to the regional tournament.”

Amy Woodworth, Sophomore pitcher, leads the Falcons

Track and Field:

“After sending 10 track athletes to the State meet last year, and all ten earning medals in every event they participated in, the Falcon track team is more focused and more committed than ever before. Coach Brown has a solid plan to earn points in every event and to help students discover a new skill that will propel them onto the podium,” Paoletti said.

The head track and field coach AJ Brown said, “Every track meet is important, but our home meets, which are the Falcon Invite and Manatee County Championships, will be two meets to watch.”  

Some athletes to watch include Senior captains Jordon Murrell, Andrew Csubak and Josh Stevens, in addition to Chase and Sydney Brown, Kendall Miller and Demi Harms. Coach Brown explained that this season will pick up where last season left off, which was at the state meet. “We had 12 falcons qualify and medal at the state meet. This year our expectations are on winning a championship,” Coach Brown said.

Freshman phenom Demi Harms leaps over a hurdle

Andrew Csubak, Senior, rounds the turn.

Boys tennis:

“The Falcon boys tennis team is shaping up to be one of the strongest boys tennis teams in recent history.  Many experienced players have now joined the ranks behind second-year coach Scott Shields.” Paoletti continued. “The boys tennis team is setting their sights on a state title run.”

The boys tennis teams include, varsity, junior varsity and middle school. Some essential new players who will play important roles include Chenhe (Dani) Li, Max Damm, Kevin Jian, Harry Neel, T Huang, Max Petrov and Quinn Isaac. In addition, there are three returning players: Noah Van Dyke the 2016 SSES varsity MVP, Rishab Ramamurthy who reached the finals of the 2016 District Tournament at #4 Singles, and Alex Siegal, our only senior and 2017 co-captain with Chenhe (Dan) Li.

“I expect Dan Li to play #1 Singles and #1 Doubles. He is one of the top players in our District and has an excellent chance to win a District Title,” said tennis coach Scott Shields. “All of the other players will contribute to the success of our team and all are very talented. They have achieved a high level of success in USTA tennis tournaments.”

This year’s captains will show their support and encouragement to their teammates in important matches: Out of Door Academy (2016 District Champions), Shorecrest (2016 District Runner Up) and Riverview High School (2016 State Runner Up 5A). Coach Shields said, “I am confident that the depth of our line up in both singles and doubles will put us in a position to do very well in the District Tournament.”

Coach Shields said that this year the Boys Varsity Team will be much stronger and very successful. “We have seven very accomplished players. We will have tremendous depth from #1 singles all the way through #5 singles, in addition to doubles. We should field two very experienced doubles teams, which should help elevate us from our competition,” Coach Shields explained.

Girls Tennis:

“The Falcon girls tennis team is also shaping up to be one of the strongest girls tennis teams in recent history.  Just as the boys, many experienced tennis players have joined the team this year for a State title run,” said Paoletti.

The team’s head Coach Eckert said that they have a very strong, well put together team. “It will be exciting to see how each player develops this year. It is great having Mary Ann Rompf return to the team for her senior year and provide leadership to the young squad,” Coach Eckert explained. New tennis players to watch are Laura Perazzolo, Eva Tasdemir and Cassy Huang, while returning players to watch are Sabina Budova and Allie Serterides.

Having been the District runner-up and Regional semi-finalists, Coach Eckert said she feels happy and excited about this season. “I am confident that this team can take us further than last year’s semifinal appearance at regionals and take us back to the State tournament,” she said. “It is always important to win the district matches because of the season ending tournament, but our match against ODA will give us a great idea of what to expect in the post-season.”

In regards to the girls team led by Coach Fronckowiak, Paoletti said: “Coming off the best season ever in the four year old program, the Falcon girls lacrosse team is planning to take another step closer to a State title. Last year the team made it to the Regional Semifinals.  Not bad for a team that has not yet had a senior player.” In addition, Paoletti said that the Falcons boys lacrosse team is headed by the new head coach Jeff Cole and that the team is planning to build the foundation of successful program. Lastly, the Saint Stephen’s crew team, already in its second year, has had a major shift said Paoletti. “With five experienced boys and girls, the team is focusing to compete in their first Regatta in mid-April,” he said.

If the question is: Should I go watch a baseball game today? The answer is obviously a definite yes. Enjoy the sunny day while you sit high up in the bleachers and see all of the action of your fellow teammates on the baseball field, on the turf field or on the tennis courts. Go Falcons!

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1 Comment

One Response to “Spring sports are in full swing”

  1. Shane Dempsey on March 10th, 2017 8:51 am

    Some key players to watch out for this season include Niko Piccolo- right handed pitcher/third base, Ben Tobio- catcher, Mike Madigan-shortstop and Caleb Eyre- right handed pitcher/right field.

    How can Caleb Eyre be a key player if he hasn’t stepped a foot on the baseball field due to his back problems.

    [Reply]

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Spring sports are in full swing