MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Building on a positive season is difficult to do, especially after losing a star-pitching duo to graduation. Workhorse starting pitchers Brendan White and Anthony Mirditaj paved the way to Mahopac’s 13-7 finish. The Indians fell in the quarterfinals of the Class AA sectionals to Mamaroneck, 3-0.
“I always tell the guys that your goal is to always be better than the year before,” ninth-year Mahopac coach Chris Miller said. “It was a pretty good season—our job is to try and do better.”
The Indians will also play without their former catcher and best hitter, Greg Cavaliere. The good news is that this year’s lineup seems to have more potent hitters across the board than last year’s.
“Our lineup is going to be better than it was a year ago,” Miller said. “Last year we got stuck with the bottom of our order—it was hit or miss. This year we have more balance one though nine.”
Senior captain Pat McGee is certainly one of these batters, as he returns at shortstop. Another senior captain in Matteo Avallone will be back at first base, while second base will be manned by junior Tom Krasniqi.
“We redesigned the way we are going to hit this year,” McGee said. “In the past years we’ve been told to get on top of the ball and hit it hard. But this year we are going to embrace the process of hitting the ball in the air because there is more ground for less guys to cover in the outfield.”
On a team with a large junior class, another junior in Anthony Simeone is set to play third. Either Chris Montuoro or Ryan Bloomer will catch, and whoever doesn’t should be the designated hitter.
“Our offense is going to have to pick it up a lot,” Avallone said. “We went through a dry spell going into playoffs (last year). (We) had two runs against Ossining and zero against Mamaroneck. If our offense comes together and our pitching staff stays where it needs to be, we will be alright.”
Senior Matt Montera will be in right field and junior Steve Daly is going to play center. Left field will be occupied by Dylan Brehm.
As for the experienced pitching staff, senior captain Brian Murray leads the pack. Fellow senior John Ravoli, a left-hander, will also see significant innings.
“We just got to believe and all come together,” Murray said. “We are all buying in on how good we can be this year.”
Senior right-handed arms Mark Trio and Tyler Rimaldi are also expected to get their chances on the hill.
“We have guys that are very capable of taking over those two spots (White and Mirdita),” Miller said. “They haven’t done that yet, and need to take on the role on actually doing it.”
Defensively, the Indians have seemed to gain an edge this preseason.
“Our defense is going to be a strong point more than past years,” McGee said. “We have some younger guys with good hands and pretty strong arms. They are fast and will cover a lot of ground.”
Mahopac will even look to use its improved agility and expand on its small-ball potential this season.
“We have a lot of speed,” Miller said. “I expect to push the envelope when we are on the base paths by stealing and taking the extra base. Putting the ball on the ground and beating it out.”
Mahopac starts its highly anticipated campaign at Walter Panas on Saturday at noon.
“It’s definitely a family atmosphere this year,” McGee said. “It would mean the world to me if we can leave Dutchess Stadium with a trophy in our hands at the end of May.”