CLARK, NJ -  The day after a late winter storm dumped eight inches of snow on the fields, the Arthur L. Johnson High School baseball team held their first practice of the season indoors last Friday. The team gathered in the lower gym and started the season with stretching, running drills and fielding ground balls. With new seniors at the helm, the team began training for what they plan to be a road to success.

“We will be trying to build on our successes of the past and put ourselves in a position to be significant in the tournaments,” said Johnson head coach David Kennedy.

Dan O’Donnell, Trevor McSorley, Steven Weisensee, Jason Brougham, Robert Horvath and Mike Lesniewski are the senior contingent on the team. The boys look to turn the Crusaders into a competitive force in 2015. 

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The Crusaders struggled last season, ending 2014 with a 9-15 record, losing to Jonathan Dayton High School (7-5) in the first round of the 2014 Union County Tournament, and falling short in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 2 state tournament first round to Spotswood High School (9-8).

“I want every team in our conference, county, and state section to see us on our schedule and think, ‘Oh boy, here’s another loss.’ I want teams to hate to have to play Johnson because they’re so tough to beat,” said Johnson senior Dan O’Donnell. “This program has the ability to compete at a high level for years to come. My goal is to get everyone to understand just how good we can be.”  

In 2014, O’Donnell batted with a .381 batting average, connecting for eight hits, including one double, and recording six RBI’s, and scoring six runs.

The seniors are looking to set themselves up as good examples for the underclassmen players on the team.  “I just have to be a better teammate, and become a better leader on the baseball field, and show the younger guys what to bring up as a leader also,” said McSorley. 

McSorley comes into the season with a 2014 batting average of .389.  He connected for seven hits, three of them doubles, and collected four RBIs.

“I just want to give a good example of what a leader and an all-around team player looks like,” echoed Weisensee. “Hopefully we will have a good year.” A pitcher, Weisensee went 2-0 in 2014, recording nine strikeouts, and walking three batters through nine innings of work on the mound. At the plate, he held a batting average of .310, recording nine hits, and scoring 10 runs.

Rounding out the Crusaders’ roster are juniors Mitch Becker, Anthony Furci, Wes Giannoble, and Anthony Rizzuto and sophomore Mike Sot.

The 2015 season gets underway on Wednesday, April 1 on the road at Jonathan Dayton High School, Springfield. The home opener is the next day, Thursday, April 2 against Linden High School.

Meanwhile, with the practice areas still covered in snow, the boys had some work to do if they hoped to get in some outdoor time before the games begin. They were told to report to last Saturday’s practice with bats, balls, gloves - and a snow-shovel.