LYNDON CENTER, Vt. — The Lyndon baseball program will pin its hopes for a run at the North Eastern Athletic Conference Eastern Division title on a deep, experienced starting rotation and an influx of young, talented freshmen.
Under the guidance of first-year coach Ed Poland Jr., the former Associate Head Coach at St. Michael's College, the Hornets will look to improve upon last year's 6-22 record.
Ace left-hander Shane O'Donnell-Leach, a Blue Mountain Union grad, returns for his senior season and will anchor a pitching staff that has six members with one or more seasons of collegiate baseball experience.
O'Donnell-Leach led Lyndon in appearances with 10 and tied fellow lefty Isaac Earle, a junior, in wins with two. He also had 51 strikeouts in 50 and one-thirds inning pitched to lead the team.
"Our upperclassmen are going to make a big impact on our pitching staff," said Poland. "They are the leaders of the team. We have some good, young arms to go with them, but if our veteran pitchers continue to develop the way they are, we are going to be very competitive in the conference."
Junior right-handers Shane Fleury and Patrick Hilton, as well sophomores Skyler Bourque and Sam Matthews, round out the veteran staff which will also feature the talents of freshmen Ian Sackett, James Neal, Brandon Flood and Devin Rhodes.
The infield is solid with the return of Kyle Whitworth, who hit a team-high .327 in 2011, Shayne Kirby and Corey Lescault. Add in the talents of newcomer Tyler Pelletier, a sophomore transfer from Bellows Free Academy-St. Albans and freshman Chris Hogan, the Hornets inner defense will be more stable than in years past.
"My belief is the team needs to be strong up the middle," said Poland. "You have to be strong at catcher, shortstop, second base and center field. We hope to be stable in those areas barring injuries and with Tyler and Kyle playing in the middle of the diamond we should be very strong."
Veteran Shawn Lonardelli and sophomore Michael Cartularo – who hit .291 as a freshman – will patrol the outfield along with sophomores Cody Gage and Dylan Newton and freshmen Billy Johnson, Alex Gauthier and Kyle Hatin.
Lyndon opened its 2010 baseball season with three losses at the Baseball Heaven in Yaphank, N.Y. the weekend of March 2-4. The Hornets dropped an 11-7 decision to SUNY Old Westbury on Friday, March 2 before falling 10-1 to the University of Southern Maine on Saturday morning. On Sunday, Lyndon wrapped up the three-game set with a 20-3 loss to Mount St. Mary's of Newburgh.
"We tried to play everyone on the road trip and we came out of it with the 20-to-22 guys we are going to battle with," said Poland. "Barring any surprises, our objective will be to qualify for the conference playoffs at the end of the season."