CHATHAM, NJ - Todd Leathers, Chatham's first-year head baseball coach, is counting on a talented pitching staff and the athletic legacy of the senior class to make his debut season a successful one.
Despite a 4-20 campaign in 2015, Leathers is confident that the Cougars are going to win their share of baseball games.
"The talent is here," Leathers said. "It's just a matter of putting it together on the field. We have a ton of seniors. I talked to these guys before and they have a chance to leave here as one of the most touted classes athletically in the history of the school. That's going to come down to what these guys can do on the baseball field."
Five members of the Chatham football team, which set a school record for victories on the way to reaching the state sectional final are all back for their senior year. They are: Shortstop Chris Bredahl, second baseman Robbie Moskowitz, first baseman/designated hitter Ryan Barnett, catcher Nick Zack and outfielder Brian Brady.
The athletic legacy for the senior class includes Jake Bevich, who was a starter on Chatham's 28-2 basketball team, which also reached the state sectional final. The third baseman is in his second year as the team captain and is a four-year varsity player.
"We want to carry it over to baseball," Bevich said. "Last year was a little rough, but we had some bright spots. We beat Delbarton for the first time. This year, this is definitely the most talented team I've been on in my four years on varsity. I really think we can surprise some people in our conference and make a run in the counties and states.
"We're deep this year on the mound and for most of us seniors this is our third year starting. We're used to the pitching we're going to see and I think our bats are going to break out and score a lot of runs."
Leathers has stressed executing plays in practice and his goals are: "Compete every day and keep getting better."
"He expects a lot out of us," Bevich said. "This year there is more of a winning attitude. We're definitely capable of doing everything he expects of us."
The deep pitching staff features senior right-hander Jack Hale, who is ready to start his fourth year of varsity baseball. Two sophomores, left-hander Matt Stamford and right-hander Billy Gyves are in the rotation, along with Matt's older brother, senior right-hander Austin Stamford and junior right-hander Sam Blanchard.
"We're going to win the battle with our pitching," Leathers said. "We have the ability to compete day in and day out at a pretty high level. Our pitching staff is very solid."
Chatham's bullpen includes junior right-hander Jimmy Cunningham, senior right-hander Jack Voight, and junior left-hander Matt Devlin, who also plays first base.
In the outfield are Brady, and juniors Sam Browning and Connor Winans.
Junior catcher Chris Delsandro is recovering from an injury and will not be in uniform for the start of the season.
Chatham opens at Morris Hills on April 1.