Honesdale is a deep, veteran-laden ballclub with eyes on a division title
There's a palpable sense of excitement in the air this spring as Honesdale's varsity baseball team prepares to embark upon its 2019 campaign.
The Hornets are coming off a rough season in which they won just three games, suffered 10 losses and were eliminated in the opening round of the District Two Class Class 4A tournament.
Despite these ugly numbers, second year head coach Ernie Griffis is flush with optimism.
“I'm definitely excited to get out there and see what we can do,” he said. “We had some serious trouble scoring runs last year, so we've focused on offense a lot during practice.
“Pitching and defense should be our strengths this year, so if we can do a little bit better scoring runs, I really like our chances.”
Weather permitting, the Hornets will open up their regular season Wednesday, March 27 at Dunmore. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.
“Every game counts this year toward our power ranking, so we have to be ready to roll right out of the chute,” Coach Griffis said.
Honesdale's home opener is slated for Monday, April 1 versus Scranton Prep at Keith Sutton Memorial Field.
Any conversation about the 2019 Honesdale varsity baseball team needs to start with its veteran leaders.
The success of this squad will depend largely on a dynamic and talented group of seniors: Andy Carroll, Anthony Dell'Aquila, Jack Dennis, Cade LaBracio and David Curreri.
Each is expected to play a major role this spring.
“I really like this group of seniors,” Coach Griffis said. “They're talented, hard-working kids with a ton of varsity experience.”
Carroll will be the ace of a pitching staff that could potentially dominate. Andy is a fireballing right hander who already appears to be in mid-season form.
“Andy throws as hard as anybody out there,” Coach Griffis said. “But, he's developed some nasty off-speed stuff since last year and that's going to make him even tougher to hit. He's looking fantastic right now.”
Dell'Aquila is one of the most versatile players in the region. A bona fide all-star caliber catcher, Anthony will likely open the season in centerfield and bat third.
“Anthony has so many tools and he can play just about anywhere on the field,” Coach Griffis said. “He's headed to Marist after high school and they're very excited to have him.”
Curreri will anchor the infield at shortstop and likely hit at the top of the batting order. David is one of the most polished players in the league and hopes to continue his diamond career at Stony Brook.
“David's been our shortstop for the better part of four years now,” Coach Griffis said. “He's a great leader on and off the field and he'll be sorely missed when he graduates.”
Dennis is another veteran pitcher who's looking to build on a solid junior season. A hard-throwing righty, Jack has the ability to start games or be the Hornets' closer.
“Jack's been dealing with a little bit of a finger issue the past week or so, but we fully expect he'll be back up to 100 percent by the start of the season,” said Coach Griffis. “We're looking for big things from Jack.”
LaBracio played third base last season, but will move over to first this spring. Cade will bat in the five-hole where he's expected to have plenty of RBI opportunities.
“Cade is a smooth swinging lefty who has a lot of pop in his bat,” Coach Griffis said. “He's headed to Lackawanna next year and I think he's going to do well at the next level.”
Around the Horn
The Lackawanna League was re-aligned once again this off-season, going from five divisions back to four.
Honesdale will compete in Division II against the likes of Wallenpaupack Area, Western Wayne, DV and North Pocono.
The Trojans are the pre-season favorite.
Coach Brian Jardine's squad returns the nucleus of a roster that went 11-1 in the league, won a division title and then added a District Two Class 4A crown to its resume.
“There aren't any easy games out there,” Coach Griffis said. “We have to be ready to play every single time we step on the field. We definitely won't be looking past anybody.”
Honesdale got out onto the field last week for its first exhibition game with Carbondale Area. The contest was played on turf at the University of Scranton and Coach Griffis was extremely pleased with his team's performance.
“We came away with a win and we got 21 guys in the game,” he said. “We pitched well, hit well and ended up scoring 15 runs.”
Next up for the Red & Black is a road trip to West Virginia where they'll play six varsity and JV games against Martinsburg High School and Spring Mills.
“We know physical errors are going to happen this early in the year, but what we don't want to see are mental mistakes,” said Coach Griffis. “I want to see the kids go out there, play hard and have fun.
“We're a senior and junior-laden team, so we probably have a leg up on a lot of other teams. All that experience should show up on and off the field.”