Assuming that the snow stops in the near future, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School spring sports teams will soon take to the diamond, tennis courts, lacrosse fields, and open waters for another action-filled season.
In the first of a two-part preview, The Times takes a look at Track and Field, Baseball, and Softball.
For the perennially strong track and field teams, the girls are young and talented, with 11 freshmen and only two seniors in the line-up. The boys will have a new throwing team this season, with good overall balance and several experienced athletes, but may not have the depth of last year.
On the diamond, the young Vineyard baseball team will take the field without a senior on the roster. The Vineyarders have quality in the starting rotation and position players but have limited depth. Meanwhile, the softball team, state tourney qualifiers the past three seasons, has a solid group of returning players but is green at the pitching position. A good sign for the future: 35 players turned out for the team.
Next week, we will preview tennis, lacrosse, and sailing.
Track and Field
The Vineyard girls and boys track teams have been strong for many years and should again be competitive for Coach Joe Schroeder this season.
The girls will be led by two seniors, captains Mariah Campbell and Katherine Dorr, along with junior Julia Neville, also a captain.
The Vineyarders lost two-time MIAA state Division 4 shot put champion Maggie Riseborough to graduation, shoes impossible to fill, but the Vineyarders are young and talented. Eleven freshmen are on the roster. Among his young athletes, Coach Schroeder will have something that he has rarely had – an abundance of sprinters. “We definitely have a throng of sprinters.” he said. “They’ll be battling for spots in the 100, 200, and 400. We’ll cover those events well. The freshmen have a great opportunity to score points.”
Coach Schroeder still has much to learn about his girls team. “We haven’t seen them jump or throw much because of the cold weather,” he said. “We try to keep them moving during practice.”
On the boys side, the Vineyarders return a strong core of athletes, including senior tri-captains Joe Turney, Paul Robinson, and the MIAA state Division 4 800-meter champ Jeremy Alley-Tarter, who naturally should excel in the mid-distance events. The team’s top jumper, senior Tony Breth, also returns. Junior Kevin Montambault should be a factor in the high hurdles and discus.
The boys will have a new throwing team, anchored by senior Andrew Jacobs-Walsh. Joe Turney will be key in the javelin and Paul Robinson in the discus.
“We have a lot of question marks, but we have a good balance to our team,” Coach Schroeder said. “Last year, we were very strong in the distances, this year we’ll be strong but not as deep.”
Weather permitting, of course, the Vineyarders (girls and boys) have their first regular season meet April 2, at Nauset in North Eastham. The first Eastern Athletic Conference dual meet is scheduled for April 9, against Coyle Cassidy in Taunton. The Vineyard home opener is an EAC meet on April 16, against Somerset Berkley at 3 pm.
The baseball team is looking for better days in 2014 after a 6-14 season, and Coach Gary Simmons thinks the Purple has the horses to do it.
“Yeah, the injury bug bit us last year,” Mr. Simmons said. The graduation bug did too. The team has no seniors on the roster. Juniors Mike Mussell and Tim Roberts will captain a squad that has quality starters but limited depth.
“The players we put out there, one through nine, can compete with anyone. And you know, developing players figure things out as the season progresses. Little tough this year with the weather. Difficult to practice with snow on the ground. So, yeah, we’re young, but we have a good group of athletes who are enthusiastic and want to learn,” he said.
Mr. Simmons said the advantage of a seasoned coaching staff will pay dividends. Ben Lima (varsity assistant), volunteers Sam Berlow, Zack Coutinho and John Roberts, and JV coach David Smith and his assistant, Ernie Chaves, have provided players with a very low instruction ratio, generally two or three kids. “Our coaches make a big difference,” Mr. Simmons said.
The difference makers between the lines include Roberts as the number one starter, Mussell, probably at shortstop, with Jacob Cardoza, Aksel Cooperrider, and Tucker McNeely emerging in starting roles.
The team scrimmaged last weekend and is tuning up for an April 3 start away against Bourne High School, followed by another road game against Randolph High School on Saturday, April 5. The Vineyarders’ home opener is an EAC game against Bishop Stang on Wednesday, April 9, at 3:15 pm.
The softball team is coming off three consecutive years of qualifying for the state tourney as a .500 team. Fifth-year coach Donald Herman sees 2014 as a rebuilding year.
“We lost our pitchers, Hailee McCarthy and Emily Cimeno, and three other players to graduation, so we have to replace them, not easy to do, ” he said. “But we had 35 kids turn out for the team, which is the highest number in a long time, and we have three returning seniors in Sarah Strem, Shelby Lavin, and Miranda Tokarz. He also noted the play of sophomore Emily Turney, who made the EAC All-Star team as a freshman in 2013.
“The EAC plays at a ridiculously high level, maybe one of the toughest in the state,” the coach said. “We have nine home games and 11 away games, including a doubleheader.
“We have a 12-player roster, and we’ll be making the picks in a few days. I’m excited for the girls and hope we get some good weather for the six scrimmages this weekend at the Mashpee Jamboree.”
The Vineyarders open at home against O’Bryant of Boston on Thursday, April 3, at 3:15 pm.