RANDOLPH, NJ - With a bittersweet ending to their 2016 season, the 2017 Rams Varsity Baseball team looks to use experience to guide their way to success this season.
After losing in the Morris County Tournament final to Morristown Beard on a controversial call, and then falling in extra innings in the State Playoffs quarter-final, the Rams still enjoyed a winning season, finishing 15-10.
“Last year left a pretty bad taste in all of our mouths after the county championship,” Barbiere explained. “This year we have high expectations going in. We are the team with the target on our backs and as long as we stay focused, this should be a fun season.”
Returning head coach Doug Anderson has very high hopes for the Varsity Rams in what will be his third year at the helm. Coach Anderson is banking on experience and depth this season in part to the large amount of returning senior starters.
“We must manage our expectations and stay focused on a daily basis,” said Anderson. “We return starters at six of eight positions, and have 18 varsity players in total from last years’ team.”
Three of those returning starters have already committed to play baseball at the next level in college. Jake Barbiere (Rider University), Thomas Ippolito (Pace University), and Jack Carroll (Susquehanna University), will be continuing their baseball careers after the 2017 season elsewhere, but also look to make big impacts during their senior season.
“This season will definitely be one to look back on,” said Carroll. “A lot of us seniors have played ball for many years together and now we all have the chance to lead our team to another successful season.”
However, despite the strength in the team’s returning numbers, there will be a few newcomers who may get the call and be needed for the Rams this upcoming season.
Sophomore Ryan McDermott and juniors Brett Flynn and Nick Rampone should be getting some playing time in the outfield, while sophomores Josh Nathan and Tyler Berg along with junior Elvis Lopez will hopefully make an impact closer to the plate at infield positions.
“We will be relying on our returning guys a lot this year, but we are also filled with talent coming off the bench,” said senior second baseman Ryan Mulligan. “It is a nice feeling knowing the team has a lot of depth and anyone can contribute if their name gets called.”
Junior Brendan Lowery returns as the starter at short stop, joining Mulligan to solidify the middle infield.
Ippolito will fill the role as the teams #1 starter on the mound, and will be joined by a rotation of Chris Doige, Trevor Salvior, Josh Nathan and Jack O'Toole. Coming out of the bullpen in relief, the Rams will look to Matt Krinick, Nick Rampone, and Jack Carroll to help close out games. They will be tossing the ball to Connor Sullivan who will be behind the plate at catcher this season.
With all the returning players along with the talented newcomers, the Rams have their sights set on another Morris County Tournament final appearance and another run at the North 1 Group 4 Sectional title, which they last won two years ago in 2015.
“Being a part of the team two years ago when we won the Sectional Championship was absolutely unreal,” said senior first baseman Stuart Backer. “To be able to get to that game again would be one thing, but to win it with all us seniors would be unforgettable.”
At this point, the Rams know where they want to be and they know how they are going to get there. There is tons of hype around the start of the season and the team is more than ready to get on the diamond.
“I have never been this excited to start a season in all of my twelve years playing the sport,” said Ippolito. ”All of us just want to get out there and start to win games. That is what we do best,”
The Varsity Rams will open up their season on the road at Sparta on Saturday, April 1st at 12 p.m.