Young players stepping up for STVM baseball team this season
DOWNTOWN AKRON — St. Vincent-St. Mary (STVM) High School baseball head coach Anthony Boarman said he is seeing continued improvement from his players this season both physically and mentally.
“With the amount of young contributors we have, our development throughout this season is crucial,” he stated. “I really have a lot of faith in this group and tell them every day we will learn from our mistakes early on and can definitely be a tough group by the end of the regular season. I’m not as worried about their physical talents, yet this is a mental game that can be won or lost on so many different mental situations. We work on live situations all of the time in practice to help prepare them for times it happens in games.”
Last year, STVM finished 15-11-1 and made it to the district semifinals. Boarman said the team lost “six strong starters” to graduation after the season.
“Some programs would like to call it a rebuilding year, but I see this season as an opportunity for some young guys to step up, get better and add to the tradition of this baseball program and take us one step closer in the direction we’re looking to go,” he said. “On most days, five or six of our starters in the lineup are sophomores, so we’re young in a sense, but we also have a lot of varsity experience from a couple of our sophomores, juniors and seniors.”
Boarman said there are five seniors on this year’s team, three of whom have varsity experience.
“Left-handed pitcher Andy Farrell is our most experienced — he is a four-year varsity relief pitcher/starter. He has served as a relief pitcher for three seasons and is now a starter,” the coach said. “Pat Jones is in his second year as a starter in our outfield. He finished last season with a .417 batting average, so we’re looking for good things from him this season. Left-handed pitcher Mark Wysocki returns for his second year on the varsity after posting a 3.00 ERA last season.”
The other two seniors on the team are playing in their first year of varsity baseball.
“Bailey Spinner (second base) and Evan Giffels (outfield/catcher) will make a strong contribution this season as role players,” Boarman stated.
According to the coach, two underclassmen are “off to hot starts” this year.
“We have a good amount of young bright spots in our program, but the two that have excelled the most so far have been sophomore shortstop Ian Dillard and sophomore second baseman Kevin Oyakawa,” he said. “Ian was our starting second baseman last year as a freshman and Kevin was our starting third baseman last year as a freshman. Both played exceptional defense last year and grew a lot as hitters.”
Other key players on this year’s team include junior right-handed pitcher Corey Whaley, who is in his third year on the varsity squad, and a pair of two-year starters in junior catcher Zac George and sophomore first baseman Ryan Donahue.
Through April 15, the team was out to a 4-2 start, with wins over Canton McKinley High School, Western Reserve Academy, Gilmour Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas High School. The losses were to Avon High School (9-8) and Cardinal Mooney High School (7-6). And with a team ERA of 2.82, STVM’s pitching has been even stronger than expected thus far, Boarman said.
“It was our biggest question mark coming into this season, but so far it has been our biggest strength,” he said. “Our pitchers have not overpowered anyone, but they have put us in a great position to win each game. We have pitchers who don’t try to do too much and understand their strengths, as well as their weaknesses — that’s really important for their success.”
On offense, Boarman said his team has relied on playing small ball to manufacture runs.
“We have really preached taking good approaches, having quality at-bats, getting on base by any means necessary, and moving runners into scoring position,” he said. “It has been tough to do, but our guys are really beginning to understand the importance of playing small ball when necessary and how it produces runs and changes the momentum in games. We’ll never overpower a team, but I am really confident in our ability to play smart and aggressive baseball.”
This is Boarman’s sixth year in the STVM baseball program and fifth year as the team’s head coach. His assistant coaches are Dan Costill, Ben Willis, Justin Corbett, Paul Nasrallah, Don Coughlin, Drew Desrosiers and Andrew Destefano.
“I say it every year — the strength of our team lies in the ability to make big plays in big moments,” Boarman said. “We have goals each season as individuals and as a team in order to take the program to the next level. We’re so close to getting our program to the next level, we just need to take that next step in the postseason where we can step up to a tough challenge in one of the most competitive districts in the state and come out successful.”
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