Diamond gems: Blue Wave baseball aiming high again in 2018
The Darien Blue Wave baseball team is looking for another impressive season coming off a 13-10 campaign that included a trip to the FCIAC semifinals and then seeing its season end in the Class LL first round to Danbury.
“We have high expectations for the team this year, which is nothing new based on the success of the program for the past couple of years,” said head coach Mike Scott.
Just two seasons ago, the Blue Wave won its first FCIAC championship since 1981, as it went 21-4 in 2016.
The team loses six seniors to graduation from last year’s team but also brings back a group of guys who have produced on the varsity level.
The losses include first baseman Casey Brown, who is playing at Fordham, catcher Cord Fox, outfielder Ethan Ehlers, pitcher and third baseman Peter Marren, who is playing at Bucknell, and pitchers Jake Geddes and Sam Hickey.
The returning core includes senior centerfielder and pitcher Justin Jordan (Sacred Heart University commit), senior catcher Sean O’Malley (Salve Regina commit), senior infielder Justin Van de Graaf, senior middle infielder Nick Conte, senior right fielder Fin Batson and junior shortstop and pitcher Henry Williams (Duke commit).
“We are going to count on some experienced returners to lead the way, as we feel that we have the pieces necessary to contend for another FCIAC and State playoff bid,” said Scott.
O’Malley was named All-FCIAC first team a season ago, while Williams was named to the All-FCIAC Eastern Division Team. The other returner who was honored after last season was Jordan, who was All-FCIAC honorable mention.
Seniors Jordan, Max Gasvoda, and Arthur Xanthos will serve as Scott’s captains.
“We expect them to lead by example and bring the energy and effort that we demand from all of our players every day to the ballfield,” said Scott. “Aside from the captains with a larger senior class, we expect that they (the seniors) will all step up in their leadership roles.”
The pitching staff will be anchored by Williams, Van de Graaf, and Jordan as the team’s starters, with senior Jackson Vaught as the team’s top reliever.
In the outfield, Jordan will be in center field, with Max Gasvoda in left field and Batson in right field. When Jordan is pitching, Vaught or senior Nate Hadlow will take his place in the outfield.
In the infield, Williams will play shortstop when he’s not pitching. Van de Graaf will likely see time at second base, shortstop and third base when he’s not on the mound. Conte will also be in the mix for playing time at second base.
“We expect to be strong up the middle, which is important for any team looking to be competitive,” said Scott.
The starters for first and third base have not been decided as of yet.
“We have a group of guys that are battling it out at the corner infield positions,” said Scott.
On the offensive side, Jordan will likely be the leadoff hitter, with O’Malley and Williams hitting in the middle of the order. Much of the rest of the order is up for grabs.
“We are looking for guys to step up and earn the other spots (in the order),” said Scott. “I anticipate the lineup will evolve as the season goes on. I would not be surprised if what we put down on game 20 looks drastically different from game one.”
The Blue Wave opens the regular season on Saturday, March 31, at home against Fitch at 11 a.m.
“We know that nothing is guaranteed in the FCIAC and that we are not going to sneak up on anybody anymore, but the guys are eager to go out and compete to earn their way in,” said Scott.