FCIAC champion Mustangs know they are target
Published 11:20 am, Thursday, April 2, 2015
After surprising everyone in the FCIAC last spring by winning the conference tournament as the No. 6 seed, the Warde Mustangs know this: they now have a target on their backs.
"Coming off the best season in school history, we look to maintain that level of excellence," Warde head coach Mark Caron wrote in his 2015 spring prospectus for the Citizen. "The team we have coming back has tremendous leadership with the experience and confidence needed to be successful."
Despite losing seven starters, including all-state player Mike Foley, Warde has a solid core of returning players, led by all-FCIAC East second baseman Nick Nardone, who batted .425 last season and will be a tri-captain along with third baseman Zach Weinstein and shortstop Dakota DeJordy.
Reece Maniscalco, who posted a 7-1 record with an ERA under 2.00, will lead the pitching staff. "He should be one of the best pitchers in the league," Caron wrote. Other returning players include outfielder Sean Homa and catcher/pitcher John Natol.
In the FCIAC playoffs last spring, Warde defeated Darien, St. Joseph and Trumbull to win the tournament title, not bad for a team that was just 12-8 in the regular season.
"We understand that by winning the league tournament last year we have a target placed on us," Caron wrote. "It's our goals to maintain that level of excellence that was started by last year's team. This can only be accomplished if this group stays focused on the daily process of working hard and committing to the program."
Notre Dame also has high hopes after a 15-5 season and advancing into the second round of the Class S tournament.
"Pitching and defense will be the keys to our success," ND head coach Bill Mazzucco wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen.
That pitching will be led by junior Dillon Stimpson, who went 8-0 with a 0.75 ERA as a sophomore last season, numbers that earned him All-State honors. Right behind him in the rotation will be senior Matt Defillippo. Together, last season, the two combined to pitch four one-hit games.
While inexperience in the outfield could be a question mark, the infield certainly is not. Seniors Nick Carloto (second base), Matt Coppola (shortstop) and Jon Suporn (third base) all return, as does senior catcher Kevin Bortnick.
Notre Dame went 10-4 in the SWC Patriot Division (second place) last spring and defeated Wamogo in the opening round of the Class S tournament before losing to Morgan.
After losing six starters from last season's 13-7 team, Ludlowe head coach Mike Francese is hoping that his Falcons' can find some success in what he feels is a parity-filled FCIAC.
"There's a lot of parity in the FCIAC and in the state overall," Francese wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. If we have timely hitting, make the routine plays and put pitchers throw strikes, I feel that we can be successful."
Captains Tom Ryan -- an All-FCIAC Central Division pick last spring -- Nick Warkentin and Eddie Magi will lead Ludlowe on the field, along with returning players Connor Daley (All-FCIAC honorable mention), Dan Stanco, Nate Klein and Patrick O'Leary.
"We need to put out a great effort and improve each day," Francese wrote. "I hope whatever failures the team has on the field they can overcome together as a team and continue getting better each day."
Ludlowe earned the seventh seed in the FCIAC tournament. The Falcons' won the FCIAC Central Division title (11-7) and reached the Class LL tournament, where they lost to New Britain in the opening round, 5-4.
Fairfield Prep is coming off an 18-5 record last spring, tying for first place in the SCC Quinnipiac Division (6-2) before losing the SCC tournament semifinals. The Jesuits were the top-seed in the Class LL tournament but was upset in the opening round by Amity 9-2.
"We should have a very competitive team again this season," wrote Jesuits head coach Rudolph Mauritz in his prospectus to the Citizen. "We are looking to contend for the SCC Quinnipiac Division title and play for the SCC championship. We have a solid foundation players to build on and if we get better and don't compound our mistakes, we can put ourselves in position to make a good run in the Class LL tournament."
"We are fortunate to have an experienced (pitching) staff returning and a defense with considerable experience and speed. Offensively, we have a veteran group which knows how to put the ball in play and use their speed."