Defending champs: ‘We have guys who want that challenge’

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PRE-HISTORY — Wave coach Mike Scott gathers the crew pregame at the 2016 FCIAC final. Courtesy Darien Athletic Foundation

BASEBALL

The challenges are expected to come fast and be furious in Darien’s unaccustomed FCIAC title defending season.

We feel that we have the potential to be back in the thick of things again for the postseason.

— Mike Scott

“We flew under the radar a bit last season, but after winning FCIACs we will have a bulls-eye on our backs this year,” said Darien coach Mike Scott. “We expect to get everybody’s best shot and No. 1 pitcher, but we feel that we have guys who want that challenge and are ready for it.”

Ten players have graduated and five starters remain from 2016, when the Wave won its first league title since 1981.

“The returners from last year’s championship team are being counted on to lead by example and set the tone for the younger players,” said Scott. “The seniors especially have been a part of this program during one of the most successful periods in DHS Baseball history, so they have seen the hard work and commitment of the former players and now are expected to continue that legacy.”

Casey Brown, Peter Marren and Cord Fox captain the team that went 21-4 and finished in the second round of states last season.

“The team has been working hard in the preseason and continues to improve on a daily basis, and we feel that we have the potential to be back in the thick of things again for the postseason,” Scott said.

Darien opens the season playing four non-league games at Fitch Sunday, hosting New Fairfield Tuesday, then at Norwich Free Academy and Daniel Hand April 7 and April 8 before beginning the FCIAC season at Greenwich 1pm April 10.

Five top hitters return

“We return five of the top hitters in the FCIAC, so we expect our lineup to produce runs and be a strength for us,” Scott said. “Casey Brown (Fordham Commit) returns at first base and as one of the top hitters in the FCIAC, and will be counted on to anchor the middle of our lineup.”

Darien’s got home plate covered.

“Junior Sean O’Malley and senior Cord Fox return to form a talented and experienced pair of catchers, and each has power potential at the plate.” said Scott. “Justin Jordan emerged as one of the top centerfielders in the FCIAC last season, and is poised to have a breakout year for us. We will count on him to be a catalyst at the top of our lineup.”

The plan is for Marren (Bucknell Commit) to see time at third base, second base and shortstop throughout the season while solidifying the middle of the lineup.

The losses are lofty.

“We lost an All-FCIAC caliber infield last season to graduation, so those are most crucial positions to fill,” said Scott. “It is so important to be strong up the middle, and we have a group of young and talented players fighting for those spots.”

Sophomore Henry Williams is one of them.

“(He) has looked good in the preseason and is the early on favorite to take over the reigns at shortstop,” said Scott. “Juniors Chris Davey, Arthur Xanthos, Justin Van de Graaf, and Nick Conte could all see time in the infield as well.”

Jake Geddes will get the big assignments on the mound.

“Senior RHP Jake Geddes (Dickinson Commit) is our top returning pitcher and will be counted on to lead a young talented pitching staff,” added Scott. “Seniors Sam Hickey and Peter Marren, juniors Justin Jordan, Jackson Vaught, Justin Van de Graaf, and sophomore Henry Williams will all be in the mix to earn innings on the mound.”