By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Never let it be said that a youth movement is under way in Shrewsbury High (SHS) varsity baseball and that newer, perhaps less experienced talent taking the field may have an adverse effect on game outcomes. Colonial baseball has long been synonymous with winning baseball and despite the loss of a staggering nine players from 2015, this team pushes on with hard work and expectations that are higher than ever.
“We don’t necessarily have goals. We take things one game at a time and believe things will take care of themselves if we work hard and have a positive attitude,” said eighth-year head coach Lee Diamantopoulos, who is assisted by Dean Diamantopoulos, Frank Flynn and John McLaughlin. “That worked for us last year. Even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, if we look back and reflect upon the body of work, it was a really good year.
The team ended the season 16-7 with a berth in the Division 1 Central Mass. final, but ultimately lost to St. Peter-Marian High School.
“This year, the players we have now know what’s expected of them,” Diamantopoulos added. “All of those positive traits that they learned from upperclassmen in years past will show on the field. These kids really love baseball. If they keep bringing that attitude as they have it will definitely show up on the field. We have a lot of really good kids that have their priorities in place and hopefully that translates to the field.”
The 2016 squad will be led by senior co-captains Casey Boudreau and Adam Twitchell. Boudreau, projected as the team’s starting shortstop, recorded and impressive .407 OBP a season ago and Twitchell, coming off a rough and tumble varsity ice hockey season, is soft-spoken but is all business and toughness once on the ice or field. His .353 batting average was ninth overall in Midland A and tops on the team for returning players
“Adam and Casey are the epitome of what a coach wants in a captain,” Diamantopoulos said. “They’re excellent leaders on and off the field and they’re great role models for our underclassmen. They lead by example and speak up when they have to. On the field they’re excellent players.
“I always want to be strong up the middle and what better than to have two senior captains where Casey is our shortstop and Adam our centerfielder. Both are like having another coach on the field positioning fielders. They both have a razor-sharp focus knowing what to do. They’ve been a pleasure coordinating off-season workouts and organizing captains’ practice.”
Pitching appears to be a team strength once again with senior right-hander Daniel McManus (4-0, 0.49 ERA, second overall in Midland A) drawing the majority of starts. He will be flanked by southpaw James He, Kevin Hummer and others who will draw mound assignments on a regular basis.
Other positional assignments remain fluid as the season prepares to get under way, but expect solid contributions from seniors Luke Gorham in the outfield, Ryan Svendsen in the infield joined by juniors Hummer, Dillon Zona, Nick DiGirolamo, Grayson Lee and Mike Filiere. Fellow juniors Nick Martin and Ryan Bunton will see ample time behind the plate.
“I feel like we’re going to be a really good team,” said Boudreau. “We’re going to compete a lot this year. We have a lot of hardworking guys. We lost a lot of guys from last year but we have a lot of good guys coming up, too. I like our team chemistry this year. I feel like with a lot of guys that have come up we’ve taken them under our wing. We’re really formed together as a real good group of guys.”
“Casey and I have big shoes to fill but I feel like we’ll get the job done,” echoed Twitchell. “We have a lot of hard workers. We have to be mentally prepared. As our coach reminds us, the regular season’s a grind and every game is tough. We can’t go easy on anyone. Midland A is one of the toughest divisions in Massachusetts so we definitely have to come ready to play every game and that’s a big part of our role to get younger guys to come ready to play every day.”
Diamantopoulos knows that the likes of Wachusett, Algonquin, Westborough, Leominster and other tough opponents will have them in their sights every time the Colonials take the field.
“Midland A is a grind because we all beat each other,” he explained. “We have to have an even-keel approach where when we win, we’re not that good and when we lose, we’re not that bad. We have to be focused at all times because baseball can be very humbling. Sometimes once you think you have it figured out it slaps you right in the face so we’re really taking a day to day approach and let the dust fall where it may.
“We still have open competition now because it’s so early and I think that’s a good thing. It keeps guys sharp, on guard and they push each other which is the best overall for the team. It’s only going to make us better and tougher team to beat.”
Members of the 2016 Shrewsbury High varsity baseball team are seniors Gorham (OF), Svendsen (IF/P), He (P/OF), Boudreau (IF), McManus (P) and Twitchell (OF/C) along with juniors Martin (C), Hummer (IF/P), Bunton (C) Zona (IF), DiGirolamo (P/IF), Lee (IF) and Filiere (OF). Underclassmen include sophomores Anthony Quinlivan (IF), Liam Quinlivan (IF/P), Louie Davolio (IF), Tim Rioux (OF/C) and Korey Patwari (IF/P), and freshman Drew Campanale (OF/IF/C/P).