MVRHS baseball and boys tennis ready to go

Coaches see strong 2017 campaigns.

James Sashin pitches in a game last season versus West Bridgewater. — Ralph Stewart

Spring sports at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) begin next week. The Times talked to coaches to get a sense of what their upcoming season looks like.

MVRHS varsity baseball

The 2017 edition of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School baseball team is a squad in transition, with several roster changes and good prospects for improving on its 12-9 2016 record. “Every year the team is different from past years, and this group may be the smartest bunch I’ve ever had. Good baseball IQ. Maybe not the most physically talented team, but they know how to play the game.You won’t see a lot of mental mistakes,“ head Coach Gary Simmons said this week.

The team returned this week from Vero Beach, Fla., where the Vineyarders scrimmaged with a half-dozen high school teams from New England and Northeast states. “Five days of good baseball work. We won some and lost some, but it was a great experience for the kids,” Mr. Simmons reported.

Mr. Simmons had some roster work to do this spring to replace seniors Aksel and Nainoa Cooperrider, last season’s starting shortstop and third baseman, respectively. The brothers, multisport MVRHS athletes, have opted to play tennis in their senior season. A lot of eyes, including college scouts, will be on senior hurler James Sashin, who emerged as a topflight pitcher last season, including a stint with a Cape Cod Senior Babe Ruth summer league team that finished in the top 10 in the national tournament.

“I would say our strengths are the skill level and intelligence of our starters. Our starting nine can compete with anybody. Depth could be a weakness. We need to keep everyone healthy,” Mr. Simmons said.

Team captains are seniors Elias Fhagen-Smith and Mitchell Chaves and junior Sam Bresnick, who will take over at shortstop.”Sam is a smart, highly energetic player who may pitch as well. He’s a submariner,” Mr. Simmons said.

“Our pitchers, in no particular order, are Elias, James, and Jonas Lukowitz as starters. Bullpen roles include Chris Mayhew as a closer, sophomore Mike Habekost as a middle-inning ‘bridge’ guy, along with Mike Sierputowski and Jake Howell,” he said.

The Vineyarders are an experienced bunch, with postseason tourney experience, including strong seniors Aidan Aliberti and Taber Caron, juniors Theo Gallagher, Nick Fiore, Nick Bischoff. and Mr. Sierputowski. Hunter Jakusik is the lone freshman to make the varsity team.

The Vineyarders scrimmage with Barnstable on the road on March 31 before opening the season on Monday, April 2, at Norton High School.

Boys tennis

A solid 2016 squad that put up a 13-5 record and advanced to the south sectional state tournament quarterfinals returns with a strong core, while adding new faces that have made Coach Bill Rigali optimistic.

“Compared with last year, we may be a little stronger throughout the lineup, though it’s hard to tell until we go up against the best schools and see what additions they’ve made. We are looking forward to a good season, and postseason tournament play,” Mr. Rigali said this week.

“Zak Danz is our senior captain, and our No. 1 singles player. He’s going to play at the next level after graduation, at Connecticut College. We’ve got a veteran group, including a versatile Ben Nadelstein, Max Hammond, James Kelliher, and junior Garrett Zeilinger, along with sophomore David Krauthamer.

“A lot of these kids played doubles together, so we have that experience. Three freshman, Spencer Pogue, Chris Ferry, and Owen Favreau, will play this season in singles and doubles competition. And we have added Aksel and Nainoa Cooperrider, very good athletes and experienced tennis players, which gives us depth and flexibility. The Cooperriders and our freshman also project as second and third singles players. We have a nice blend of kids, freshmen through seniors,” he said.

Mr. Rigali gets to sort through his options before the team opens the season on April 5 at Coyle and Cassidy.