Three defending Section 10 baseball champions will again look to contend for NAC Central Division regular season honors this spring.
Class A champion Massena and Class C champion Norwood-Norfolk shared the Central Division banner last season with 11-3 records while Class B champion Potsdam finished one game back at 10-4. With all three teams returning the majority of their starting lineups, the 2011 campaign is shaping up to be another close race.
Coach Greg Paquin welcomes back nine players but the Raiders are still relatively young with only three seniors on the roster in starting iinfielder/pitcher Matt Jenack and starting outfielders John-Paul Mailhot and Marcus Rogers. Returning juniors who played key roles last spring include; Cullen Baines (OF), Daniel Barnum (OF), Jake Kormanyos (P), Josh Miller (IF), Troy Myers (IF) and William Seguin (catcher).
First-year players expected to contribute include juniors Avery Barney, Dustin Graves and Jake Ward along with sophomore Zack Rusaw.
The Raiders will face a tough test right away when they open the season on Wednesday, April 20, in Malone against Central Division and Class A rival Franklin Academy.
Coach Chris Donah got a glimpse of his team's potential earlier this month when the Sandstoners split a non-league double-header at Indian River, losing the first game 1-0 before bouncing back to take the nightcap 13-2.
Potsdam will be counting on the leadership of a veteran senior core that includes John Coleman (P/IF), Steven Hayes (IF), Todd Sharlow (IF) and Jeremy Waite (OF). The lone returning junior is catcher Lee Buchanan. Sophomore Brandon Noble (1B/P) and freshman Ben Miller (OF/P) are also back after promising rookie seasons.
Newcomers to the varsity ranks who will be relied on to fill the voids of graduation include: juniors Joe Bartlett and Zachary Snyder; sophomores Joe Barrett and Mark Maroney; freshman Andrew Ace and Trevor Keleher.
The Sandstoners make their Central Division debut on Wednesday, April 20, at Route 11 rival Canton Central.
Coach Steve LaShomb will be working with one of the few senior-oriented lineups in the division this spring as the Flyers look to maintain their status as one of the top teams in the section. Making their varsity curtain calls are Matt Bresett (OF), Andrew Chapin (OF), Thomas Fiacco, Justin Hargett, Derick Smith, Andrew Stone (P/IF) and Jeremy Waite.
Returning juniors include Gunnar Brown and Jordan Lashomb.
First-year players looking to bolster the Flyers' hopes this spring include senior Devin Berger, juniors Cody Delosh and Alex Ploof and sophomore Cody Smith.
The Flyers are slated to get the 2011 season underway at Vern Burrows Field against Gouverneur on Tuesday, April 19, starting at 4:30 p.m.