MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac baseball coach Mickey Lugbauer and the Indians hope that a senior-heavy team with experience can blend with some talented newcomers and create a winning atmosphere this spring.
The Indians are coming off an 8-14 season where they lost in the first round of the playoffs to White Plains. The team will be without All-Section right-handed pitcher Billy Moeller, lost to graduation.
“This year the guys have been working really hard,” Lugbauer said. “We have some good hitters in the middle of our lineup who can help us, and a bunch of guys who are looking to make a name for themselves. I’m excited about the group, they have great chemistry, show up to work every day, and I think that will translate into some wins for us this year.”
The team welcomes back returning starters and senior captains Kyle Brandstetter (1B), Mike Musantry (OF), and Connor Stepkoski (C).
“Kyle and Mike are big in the middle of our lineup,” Lugbauer said. “They hit over .300 last year, and are leaders who will lead on and off the field. Connor will be a defensive leader for us, he’s a good motivator and will do everything you ask. He’s a smart kid and an extension of the coaching staff.”
Also returning is senior third baseman Nick Mancusi, who will also serve as a captain.
“He’s a vocal guy and always there to pick the guys up,” Lugbauer said. “A great teammate.”
Also back for the Indians are seniors Matt Weiner (SS/RHP), Mike Mammola (OF/RHP), Chris Walpole (OF), Josh Conde (2B), Joe Lacoparra (RHP/3B/DH), Frank Digaudio (1B/3B), and Nick Montanez RHP), as well as junior Casey Tewey (RHP).
“The guys were obviously disappointed with last year,” the coach said. “They’re bringing a good attitude, they work hard every day. We’re inexperienced in some areas, but the kids are competing every day to make the team better.”
Exciting newcomers to the team this spring include junior left-handed pitcher and outfielder Matt Luongo, junior infielder Chris Luongo, and sophomore right-handed pitcher Kevin McKeown.
“They bring a lot of excitement every day,” the coach said. “They have speed, and some great defense. Matt has a quirky delivery and mixes his pitches, and we’re expecting big things from Kevin—he throws in the low 80s.”
The team will look to Tewey and Weiner to lead an inexperienced pitching staff.
“We’re very excited about Tewey,” the coach said. “He’s aggressive with his fastball, and Matt threw some good innings from the pen last year. He has command of his fastball and a good change, and he can throw a lot of innings for us this year.
“Lacoparra, McKeown, and Mammola will all be looking for their spots as well,” Lugbauer added. “They’re all battling for the next spot, they all have potential, and will all get an opportunity.”
The coach mentioned defense when asked about strengths.
“Our defense has the potential to be one of the best in the section,” Lugbauer said. “The guys are all super athletic, and we’ll have to play defense to win games.”
The Indians play in a league with Carmel, John Jay East Fishkill, RCK, and Arlington.
“Every year our league is one of the toughest in the section,” the coach said. “The Dutchess teams are always tough. We need to do the little things, and if we do, we have a chance to win games. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing things the Mahopac way.”
Lugbauer believes if things go well, the team could make some noise in the playoffs.
“If we play the way we can, I think we can make a deep run,” he said. “The guys are really motivated to prove that last year was a fluke, and they are a good quality baseball team.”
The Indians will visit Scarsdale April 2 at 4:30 p.m., and host Ossining April 4 at 4:30 p.m.