LYNDON CENTER, Vt. – Having qualified for the North Atlantic Conference playoffs in his first season at the helm, Lyndon Head Baseball Coach has plenty to be optimistic about.
With the return of seven upperclassmen, and a recruiting class that features 10 freshmen and a handful of talented transfers, the Hornets have put themselves in a position to move up the ranks quickly in the NAC in the 2015 season.
However, White is taking a different approach this season, focusing on the day-to-day things that must be done before a team can reach its true potential.
"Our job is to win each day," said White. "We take things day-by-day. Work hard every day. Compete every day. These expectations aren't much different this year than last. We want our guys to win the day whether it is in practice, class or on the field. We focus on how we can get better today and that will us tomorrow."
Lyndon posted an overall record of 10-19 in the 2014 campaign with a mark of 9-15 in conference play. Having lost All-NAC performers Kyle Whitworth, a catcher, and shortstop Tyler Pelletier, along with steady right-hander Sam Matthews, many would think the Hornets are in a rebuilding year. But for White, a return trip to the postseason is not out of the question come season's end.
"We're going to go out, compete and try to get in the playoffs," he said. "In the playoffs anything can happen. Right now the strength of our program is its chemistry and that is something we have worked hard to build."
Another area Lyndon has strengthened is its pitching staff, both in the starting rotation as well as the bullpen. Veteran Jeff Williams, Brandon Flood, Michael Raimondi, Shane LaCroix and Mason Brewer have joined with newcomers James Mundy, Neil Robinson, Davis Guyer and Andrew Whalen to form a deep, talented and versatile staff.
Junior Billy Johnson, who fared well as a freshman starter in the 2012 season, also rejoins the staff after a one-year hiatus.
"We have six or seven starters who can help us and we have a full bullpen which is something we didn't have in the past," said White. "Raimondi and Flood will do the set-up work and Mundy can either close or start. He has a quiet confidence we like to see in a pitcher and as a freshman he's been battle-tested. We are confident he will be a success."
In terms of a starting lineup, White has many options as to who plays and will probably platoon at a few positions throughout the year.
"When you break things down, we lost only two starters from a year ago," said White. "And we've recruited a number of talented young players to help us get better. Andre Eason, a transfer from Albertus Magnus, is a talented center fielder who will hit in the top of the order and Nathan Stewart, another transfer, will see a lot of playing time behind the plate.
"Dylan Newton is back with us and he will supply us with some much-needed power," he continued. "And shortstop Reece Tanguay will give us some talent and depth at that position. Zach Hale is a solid player who can step in and help us and the tandem of Kevin Tufo and Collin Clark will split time in left.
White also went on to say that rookie Josh Laroche and Ian Sackett will patrol center fielder while the duo of Ian and Murdock and Ian MacGregor will share the first base duties. Ryan Cordeiro and Dan Peirce are penciled in to play second base and David Laroche will split the catching duties with Stewart.
"If we have any injuries, we now have the depth to overcome them," said White. "It's a luxury we're looking forward to having."
The Hornets will travel south to Winter Haven, Fla. the week of Feb. 25 through March 3 to open its season. That trip, along with a short trek to Long Island the following weekend will be White and his coaching staff a better idea of how talented and deep his roster really is.
"Florida is always a telling time," he said. It gives you a chance to face adversity and see what guys can do in certain spots. It gives you a chance to see how guys compete when you're down early and see how they react. We know we're going to make mistakes, but if we can limit the number of mental mistakes and put the onus on that, we'll be fine. It's important that we maintain a professional attitude and focus on doing our best."
Lyndon opens the Florida road swing on Wednesday, Feb. 25 with a 9-inning contest against Cleary College. The game will be held at the Chain O'Lakes Complex in Winter Haven, Fla. and will get underway at 2:30 p.m.
By BILL JOHNSON, Assistant Athletic Direcor/SID