FAIRFIELD - One win short.

Last season, the Warde baseball team lost its opening six games, only to rally through the middle part of the season and have a chance - if it could win one of its last two games - to qualify for the Class LL tournament.

They didn’t.

Fingers crossed that that lack of postseason play will motivate the returning Mustangs to get back to playoff status, either in the FCIAC or CIAC tournaments this spring.

“We have a strong group of returning players that earned valuable playing experience last year,” Warde coach Brett Conner wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We will also see some young, talented players get the opportunity to make a name for themselves within our program.”

Tri-captains Zach McKay (pitcher), Alex Steele (second baseman) and Ryan Donnelly (shortstop) will lead the Mustangs, along with catcher Finn Mobley and right fielder Sam Vincent. McKay went 3-2 last season with two saves and Donnelly batted .330 with two home runs.

Like many teams, pitching, offense, defense and leadership will be the keys to the Mustangs success.

“If our returning players continue to develop and lead, and the new, young players step up, it could be a special season for us,” Conner wrote. “We are excited.”

Warde finished 7-13 last season.

LUDLOWE

Ready to compete.

That’s what Falcons coach Mike Francese wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen about Ludlowe’s prospects this spring.

“We are looking forward to the season and we’re ready to compete,” Francese wrote. “If we throw strikes, score a lot of runs and make the routine plays, we’ll compete.”

John McMillian and Mike Randazzo will be the co-captains for Ludlowe, who finished 12-11 last spring, winning two games in the Class LL tournament before falling to Amity in the quarterfinals. The Falcons finished 7-10 in FCIAC play.

Randazzo, a senior, posted four wins, a 3.50 ERA and struck out 42 batters in 40 innings last spring to earn All-FCIAC East Division honors. Junior catcher Vince Camera batted .265 with six doubles, two triples and a home run with 14 RBI. He was also an All-FCIAC East Division selection. Pitcher Sam Meyers also posted four wins, had a 2.47 ERA and had 18 strikeouts in 28 innings.

“This team has a ton on energy and will work hard each day to keep improving and compete,” Francese wrote.

FAIRFIELD PREP

Coming off a 20-win season last spring, Fairfield Prep coach Rudy Mauritz has high hopes for a repeat this season, thanks to what he calls a “deep pitching staff” and “strong defense.”

“The Fairfield Prep baseball team has its sights on competing for the SCC and Class LL championships,” Mauritz wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “We will look to a deep pitching staff to set the tone for the defense and limit runs for the opposition.”

That pitching staff is led by seniors Alexey Linsenmeyer, Will Lucas - an All-SCC Oronoque Division selection last season -- Joe Mancini and Connor Bennett along with junior Adam Stone. In addition, Mauritz will look toward catcher Dan Fallacaro to “spark the offense.”

“We are going to look to pitching staff and strong defense up the middle to limit runs for the opposition,” Mauritz wrote. “with wins and losses being determined by our ability to score runs. While we look to our returning lettermen to lead the way, we know that success will hinge on the contributions of those starting and competing at the varsity level for the first time.”

The Jesuits were 20-6 last season, losing in the SCC finals and reaching the Class LL quarterfinals, beating Greenwich and Newtown before falling to Danbury.

Lucas, Mancini and Fallacaro will be captains.

ND-FAIRFIELD

Like Prep, Notre Dame-Fairfield also returns a veteran pitching staff, led by seniors Dillion Higgins, Pete Minore and Austin Allen, along with juniors Tyler Romano and Brian Teskey. Both Higgins and Minore were All-Patriot Division selections last season.

“We have a quality pitching staff, anchored by experienced seniors,” coach Bill Mazzucco wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Solid pitching and getting big hits will be keys to our success.”

ND-Fairfield finished 14-8 last season - but that came after jumping of the gates en route to an 11-1 start - losing in the second round of the Class L tournament to Thomaston.

When he’s not pitching, look for Higgins to handle shortstop duties with Minore (who hit two home runs last season) working at first base and Allen patrolling centerfield. Third baseman Bob Karosy also hit two home runs last season and catcher Jacob Rainey returns for Mazzucco, as does infielder/pitcher Jeremy Tierney.

celsberry@ctpost.com; @elsctpost/Twitter.com