Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 23
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
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FRANK APPRAISAL: Princeton Day School baseball third baseman Kevin Francfort gets ready to field the ball in action this spring. Senior tri-captain Francfort hit .310 and provided solid defense as PDS took its lumps in going 4-14 this season.

PDS Baseball Fought Through Transition Year; Believes Experience Will Lead to Improvement

Bill Alden

Ray O’Brien knew that his Princeton Day School baseball team was destined to take some lumps this spring.

“It was a transition year,” said PDS head coach O’Brien. “When we broke camp in Florida we knew we had an inexperienced pitching staff and six new position players.”

Working in those new faces, the Panthers found wins hard to come by as they went 4-14.

While O’Brien hoped for a better record, he believes his players gained valuable experience.

“The kids battled,” said O’Brien. “We went through a lot of adversity and I saw a lot of individual character.”

Sophomore catcher Bradley Freid exemplified the team’s competitive spirit as he gamely took on the challenge of becoming a catcher.

“I can’t say enough about Bradley; he had never caught at any level and we threw the catching glove at him on the spring trip,” said O’Brien.

“He worked hard and really improved by the end of the season. Now that he has a whole year there, I think he will continue to progress.”

O’Brien saw progress from several other young players including sophomore B.J. Dudeck and junior Matt Cook.

“B.J. had an unbelievable year,” said O’Brien of Dudeck, who ended with a .367 batting average and a team-high 19 RBIs and was named as an honorable mention All-Prep B player along with junior Sean McCoy (.356).

“He led the team in extra base hits and played well in right field. Matt had a nice offensive year, he batted .351 and was hitting in the middle of the lineup by the middle of the year.”

Cook also helped the team’s young mound corps, which hung in there as it gained experience.

“Jacob Eisenberg took the ball every turn and threw his 100 pitches,” said O’Brien.

“He battles and led us in innings pitched. Cook did well. The two other guys, Tom Keegan and Greg Auerbach, should be better next year.”

The Panthers will have to go on next year without its trio of senior stars and co-captains Skye Samse, Jon Walker, and Kevin Francfort.

“We lose our two most experienced and polished players and Francfort played two years for us,” said O’Brien.

Samse, a first-team All-Prep B performer, led PDS in hitting (.411), runs (18), hits (23), and homers (four) while Walker batted .372 and was a second-team All-Prep B pick. Francfort hit .310 with a fourth senior, A.J. Rubin, posting a .347 batting average.

The seniors did go out on a high note as PDS topped WW/P-N 14-10 in its season finale.

“It was nice to end the season with a win since we had struggled a lot,” said O’Brien.

“We fell behind early and then we came back. Jon had a big triple that put us in the driver’s seat. It was a good sendoff for the seniors.”

O’Brien is confident that PDS can pick up more wins next spring. “I think the players will learn from their experiences and we will be a lot better,” said O’Brien, pointing to such returners as Cook, McCoy, Dudeck, and shortstop Beau Horan.

“We have some good young kids coming back and all of our pitching. It depends on how hard they work in the offseason. If they put the work in, I think we can make a big jump.”

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