SOMERS, N.Y.-Somers’ baseball team has experienced its share of struggles the past few seasons. In 2016, the Tuskers didn’t make the Class A sectionals. Last year, they were eliminated in the outbracket round of the playoffs by John Jay-Cross River to end a 6-15 season.
But 2018 brings a new season and the Tuskers are ready to put the past behind them. A veteran Somers squad has 13 seniors on the roster and five starters returning.
“We’re getting better each day, which is a good sign,” Somers coach Joe Wootten said. “Our seniors are really taking the ball and running with it. They’re really stepping up. I want these kids to have fun, I want them to make memories and I want to play for our seniors. But I really want them to get better each day. If we do that, there’s no telling what we could do in May.”
Right-handed junior Logan Carriero is the Tuskers’ ace and will also play third base when he isn’t on the hill.
“He’s got a hard, sinking fastball that’s a heavy ball and real tough for people to hit,” Wootten said. “He doesn’t bring it too hard—81-82 miles per hour. He’s not overpowering but he locates well on both sides of the plate. He throws his off-speed pitches at any time in the count which is really affective at the high school level. We look for him to get a lot of outs this year.”
Austin Wainer is the lone sophomore on the team and will also be important when it comes to pitching. “He brings it pretty hard and has a lot of good breaking stuff,” the veteran coach said. “He’s got a great baseball mindset.”
Wootten expects contributions from a pair of left-handed hard throwers in juniors Liam Kaseta and Joe Iorizzo. Junior Anthony O’Donnell is another pitcher to look out for.
Seniors Jack Torre and Mario Caltabellotta bring a change of pace on the hill, Wootten said. “We’re going to mix it up a little bit,” Wootten said. “If we have a kid like Logan coming in throwing hard, and then we have a junk-baller like Mario coming in…We’re trying to makeshift and get some outs.”
Senior Nick Keating, one of the team’s leaders, will start at shortstop and also pitches. Fellow senior Joe Marino also plays shortstop, but Wootten said they are looking at him as more of a designated hitter.
Seniors Eric Ferrara and Jack Albero are battling for time at catcher. Ferrara was the starter his sophomore year with Albero getting starts midway through his junior season.
“Either one of those guys I’m comfortable with starting,” Wootten said. “But usually, with that position, whoever is hitting a little bit more is going to be playing. It is a defensive position as well, so we’re looking for them to throw out runners and control the running game. They’re right there with each other.”
Kaseta will man first base. “A big strong kid and he’ll be right in the middle of the lineup,” Wootten said. “He’s going to be a run producer.”
Second base is a position battle between senior Ryan Cameron and junior Mike Barbagallo. “Both are pretty good defensive players,” Wootten said. “Mike’s probably got a little bit better of an arm right now. Ryan thinks the game very well.”
Senior Chris Boncardo, a strong hitter, returns in right field. “He’s going to produce runs and get on base,” Wootten said.
There are three seniors battling for the center and left field spots: Nick Fiore, Anthony DeCoro and Nick Ruggiero.
Rounding out the Tusker roster are junior shortstop Jordan Streisfeld, senior infielder Bryce Shor, senior pitcher Carter Sitar and junior pitcher Greg Fusco.
Wootten’s assistant coaches are Mike Watson, Dan Zlotnick, John Cucchiarella and Dan Azzari.
Defensively, Wootten said the team might be a little behind the eight-ball because they haven’t been able to get on an actual diamond with the poor weather conditions.
“I can’t really see how far along we are defensively, but I hope it’s a strength,” he said. “Defense has to be a strength if you want to win in our league and our section. If it’s not you’re going to lose—that’s the bottom line. We work on our defense every day for an extended period of time. We put a lot into pitching and defense. That’s how you win in high school.”
Somers is scheduled to open the regular season when it hosts Eastchester at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30. The Tuskers then welcome Sleepy Hollow at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 2.