Bill McQuade brings a wealth of experience to the Hun School baseball team as he enters his 44th season at the helm of the program and that wisdom will come in handy this spring.
Hun has said goodbye to 11 players from a 2013 squad that went 16-7 and McQuade will be working in a bevy of new faces into his lineup.
“We lost so much individual talent from last year, we lost speed and power,” said McQuade, whose team spent a week in Florida earlier this month and is slated to open regular season play by hosting Lawrenceville on March 28.
“We are a completely younger team and a much different team. We brought up so many kids up from JV and they are going to learn under fire.”
The Raiders do return a fireballer on the mound in junior star pitcher Jason Applegate.
“Applegate is a workaholic, sometimes he is too hard on himself,” said McQuade.
“He has to step up and be a leader of the staff. He has talent. He knows this year he has to be a star. He is going to be our ace, for sure.”
McQuade believes that two sophomore hurlers, George Revock and Rob Huselid, could emerge as stars this spring.
“Revock did a really good job last year as a freshman,” said McQuade.
“He is a big, strong lefthander. He will also play first base and DH; he has some pop on his bat. Huselid also did a wonderful job last year. He is a submarine, sidearm style and he likes coming out of the bullpen. He should be our main reliever. He loves it and he has a rubber arm. We can pitch him almost every game.”
The Raiders have some other good arms in junior Justin Pontrella, junior Mike Andreas, junior Matt Kooker, and sophomore James Werosta.
“We got good innings in Florida from Justin Pontrella, Mike Andreas, Matt Kooker and James Werosta,” said McQuade.
“They may have been our most effective pitchers down there. They were pounding the strike zone, they were getting ahead of batters and changing speeds.”
The catching pair of senior Ryan Hayes and junior Gideon Friedberg should help the rotation.
“We have Ryan Hayes at catcher, he is looking good; he improved a lot from last year,” added McQuade.
“Gideon played catcher in Florida; he did a nice job behind the plate.
We could give Ryan some innings at pitcher, he has a good arm.”
Losing such hitting stars as Devan Birch, Shane Adams, Steve Wells, and Eddie Paparella to graduation, the Raiders are going to have to scratch out runs this spring.
“We are going to have to play small ball and have a good on-base percentage,” said McQuade.
At the top of the order, Hun will be looking at junior Nick Perez, senior Andy Douglas, and junior Donavon Harris to be tablesetters.
“Nicky Perez has to have a good year; he knows the game,” said McQuade.
“Andy Douglas is a scrappy player, he loves the game. Harris has potential, he is a such a good all around athlete. He is our one real speed guy.”
Senior co-captains Bailey Hammer and Alex Deutsch should provide punch to the lineup along with Pontrella.
“We are going to move Bailey back to infield; he was an all star outfielder,” said McQuade.
“He is a solid second baseman and he gives us some nice power. Alex Deutsch has some pop in his bat. Pontrella is like the old Yankee Steve Balboni; he has a lot of pop, always has a smile on his face.”
The defensive alignment will feature Hayes at catcher with Pontrella at first base, Hammer at second, Perez at shortstop, junior Peter Schintzler at third, Deutsch in center field, Douglas in right field, and Applegate in left when he isn’t pitching.
In McQuade’s view, pitching and defense hold the key to Hun having a big spring.
“We have to get the pitchers to throw strikes, it sounds easy but it isn’t,” said McQuade. “We have to pitch and play defense, it will be old school baseball.”
McQuade has found it easy to work with this year’s squad. “This is a fun team to coach,” said McQuade.
“This year coming out of the gate, we could struggle but I think we will get better as the year goes on. This team will work, they showed in Florida that they aren’t afraid to work.”