WHS Sports roundup
Baseball, softball teams are in a holding pattern, waiting for fields to thaw
The calendar may say that spring officially was sprung by Mother Nature last Friday, but her landscape of snow and ice, leftovers from Old Man Winter that have been aided and abetted by the unseasonably cold temperatures, suggests otherwise, at least as far as the Winthrop High softball and baseball teams are concerned.
“I have never faced as difficult a task in coaching as we are currently facing,” said veteran WHS head baseball coach Frank DeMarco. “I would like to state publicly that the decision to destroy our parks by using them as snow depositories was a misguided decision by our town leaders who I believe had, and have, the best of intentions. There is such a thing as a strong, caring group of leaders getting together and still making the wrong choice. It was done in the name of public safety which of course, is priority one, two, and three. That is indisputable.
“However, our last resort should have been to take recreation away from the youth of this town and leave two giant eyesores right in the middle of town to remind everyone of how misguided it was,” continued DeMarco.
“Everywhere I go and everyone I see questions their decision before I say anything. They had other alternatives, maybe not as expedient as the solution they chose, but alternatives nonetheless. This choice affects the quality of community life right into the summer.
“It has affected multiple sports at multiple age groups and recreation in general,” DeMarco added. “Here is our (baseball) situation: We have no place to practice and no place to play for the foreseeable future. We will be playing all our games on the road indefinitely with no place to practice. There was talk of renting fields outside of Winthrop, but nothing has been determined yet. Other programs, both high school and youth, are in the same boat. Despite all this, we have the best turnout for baseball in my coaching career. We are doing the best we can in the gym every day.”
“It is going to be an interesting year for all spring sports,” said WHS head coach Dave Guffey, echoing DeMarco’s sentiments. “The indoor practice at our gym with the limited room makes it hard to get a look at the kids, especially in the outfield.”
In terms of their coming seasons — whenever they get underway — both coaches are enthusiastic about their teams’ outlooks, with both hoping for an April 13 start.
“It’s hard to evaluate the team right now, but we believe we have a pitching staff that will throw strikes and put us in a position to compete,” said DeMarco, listing sophomore Jack Wallerce, junior Nick Disciscio, senior Mike Rich, sophomore Chris Zuffanti, senior David Kirby, and junior Zack Fisher as his prime candidates on the mound. With the coming season looming as one with a compressed schedule that will require multiple games on a weekly basis, a plethora of arms will be a huge plus for the Vikings.
“We also have returning, four-year starter Dylan Driscol at shortstop and fellow senior Bobby Fisher at second base,” said DeMarco. “Junior Matt Feeley will be doing the catching. Junior Zack Fisher has had an outstanding camp and has shown he can play third, short, pitch, and play the outfield.
“In the outfield, four-year player Tyler Gillis is returning,” added the coach. “The most competition will be at first base and in the outfield with James Griffin, Tom DiBenedetto, Charlie Page, Joey Fabiano, and Sean McDonald in the mix.”
On the softball side, Guffey has a number of solid returning players, led by senior Maura Lanza, who has been one of the top pitchers on the North Shore for the past two seasons. Fellow senior Christine Haskell, juniors Taylor Thomas, Ali Scarfo, Alexis Joyce, and Jaida Hightower, and sophomores Maddy Fainga’a and Regina Garufo all come back with varsity experience.
Junior Gabby Kenniston, who has transferred from Lynn Classical where she was an all-star as a freshman, should find a spot in the lineup. Junior Nicole Pucillo, sophomores Kaitlyn Carter, Taylor Impemba, and Kayla Yarrow, and freshmen Emma Carney and Syd Adamson are newcomers to the varsity squad.
Olivia Grillo, a standout for the Lady Vikings for the past two seasons, presently is on the injured list after shoulder surgery. Among the pre-season pleasant surprises for Guffey thus far have been the performances of Kaitlyn Carter and Taylor Thomas, last year’s number two pitcher, whom Guffey said, “has looked superb.”
The MIAA has extended the deadline for completion of the regular season from Memorial Day to May 31 for purposes of qualifying for the state tourney, but even with the extra week, programs will be scrambling to find available slots to compress their 20-game schedules into a shorter time frame.