In the wake of a disappointing 2012 season, Bill McQuade senses a renewed hunger around his Hun School baseball team this spring.
“They think they could have done better,” said Hun head coach McQuade, whose squad went 9-14 last spring after surging to the state Prep A title in 2011.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t have enough pitching depth and that hurt us. This team has a different feel. We have five or six newcomers who can really play. This is shaking the cobwebs off because people know they could lose their position. We are going to be as good as we can be as a team, not individuals.”
McQuade believes that this year’s team boasts a powerful one-two pitching punch in Wagner College-bound senior star Austin Goeke and sophomore Jason Applegate.
“Goeke is terrific, he looked great in Florida,” said McQuade, who took his team on its annual spring training trip earlier this month in preparation for his 43rd season at the helm of the program.
“Jason Applegate is a kid who has made a big jump. He really opened some eyes in Florida. He is vastly improved, his control and curveball are much better.”
The Raiders have plenty of arms to back up Goeke and Applegate. “We are still figuring out the rest of the staff,” said McQuade, whose team opens the 2013 season by playing at the Lawrenceville School on March 27.
“Mike Manfredi is not a power pitcher but he throws strikes. The freshmen, George Revock and Rob Huselid, throw strikes. Andy Douglas has a funky motion but he is effective. Brett Ender had some shoulder problems and was rehabbing in the fall. He can get it over 90 m.p.h. so he could be another power pitcher for us. If I had to say what our strength is, I would say it is depth on the mound.”
The Raiders have some depth around the diamond to provide defensive support for its pitchers.
“We have multiple people who can play multiple positions,” said McQuade. “It is causing the coaches a dilemma. We have a couple of people for each position and we may need to make cuts. We have a lot of moving parts.”
McQuade should have the ability to make a lot of moves defensively. “We have Stevie Wells at first, Shane Adams at second, Devon Birch at shortstop, and Eddie Paparella at third when he is healthy; we will have Nick Perez and Douglas at third for now,” said McQuade.
“In the outfield, we have Applegate, Manfredi, Douglas, Zach Roberson, and Bailey Hammer. We have five or six guys who could play in the infield and four or five in the outfield.”
The Raiders also have depth at catcher as Mike Edenzon, Gideon Friedberg, and Ryan Hayes are vying for time behind the plate.
“All are better than the other in one area, hitting, throwing, or blocking pitches,” said McQuade in analyzing his catching situation. “We have to figure out who will be the catcher.”
Hun’s batting order boasts a good balance of speed and punch that figures to give its foes fits.
“Birch and Adams can both lead off, they are identical to each other, they are both special players with a lot of speed,” said McQuade.
“Wells gives us a lot of power. It is a mistake to pitch him inside so we have him working on going to the opposite field. We just need him to get singles or doubles to left to keep the line moving. Applegate is better and Manfredi has a good bat. Paparella at third is a special player, a lot of college scouts were looking at him last year. When he gets healthy, he will bat third. He is a switch hitter.”
In order to rebound this spring, the Hun players will have to come together as a unit.
“If we can get the right people in the right places and work together, we could be good,” said McQuade.
“The kids can’t worry about individual statistics. We have a lot of kids going on to play in college but it is about what are you going to do now. Some kids may have to play different positions if that is what is best for the team. These are the little things that we have to do well and we talk about them everyday.”