WEST ORANGE, NJ - The weather at home may not be cooperating, but the West Orange High School Baseball team has the spring season on their minds.
It's a new season for the Mountaineers, and they're looking forward to making their mark when they take to the field in its first game on Tuesday, April 1, against Millburn High School.
With the rough 2013 campaign firmly behind them, there is much look forward to this season. Head coach Stephan Zichella, coming off an incredibly successful 15-3 season as head coach of the WOHS wrestling team, recognized by the Star Ledger as the No. 1 team in Essex County, begins his eighth year coaching in the immensely competitive Super-Essex Conference. What this year’s team lacks in experience they plan to account for with team chemistry developed on their yearly trip to Fort Pierce, Florida for the Florida Coast Spring Training Camp Program.
“It was a great experience for all of our kids, from a chemistry standpoint our team grew a lot closer, experiences like that carry into the season.” Zichella pointed out.
Off-season preparation is not something taken lightly by the WOHS baseball team. It’s no secret that this winter was tough; a snow covered ground combined with day after day of sub-freezing temperatures makes even the simplest of baseball workouts like having a catch hard to achieve. Playing in the strongest baseball conference in the state of New Jersey makes a trip to sunny Florida a necessity to both acclimate and get a leg up on all the SEC has offer.
“The Florida trip gives our team the opportunity to play a few extra scrimmages and form a stronger bond amongst teammates that other teams do not have” added senior first baseman Aaron Flores
The Mountaineers' strength undoubtedly lies in their three-man pitching rotation anchored by returning second team all-county senior Mike Zarro, along with sophomores Liam White and Andrew Scholz. Zarro, who made Essex County underclassmen all-star team, has had quite an off-season aside from winning the state championship with the WOHS boy’s soccer team.
In addition to the pitching staff, the starting line-up includes junior Jake Klein-catcher, junior Dom Pizzano-seond base, and senior Aaron Flores-first base, with the rest of the line-up being determined.
“I was pitching or throwing two to three times per week, working on mechanics and really understanding how as a player I can personally help the team out most. I’ve definitely come a long way since last season and just want to improve on from where I finished, however winning as a team is paramount,” Zarro said.
The "lesson" of the WOHS Boys Soccer, considered 'no threat' heading into tournament play, is that you can’t sleep on the underdog. The 2014 baseball season brings with it a wave of optimism for the Mountaineers. Eight players, many of which experienced varsity for the first time last year are returning as better players with a year under their belt. Optimism and team chemistry trump individual play, the Mountaineers are in a great spot, certainly a team that should not be taken lightly.