Rams thinking playoffs after missing by one game in 2010
When the sun set on New Canaan's 2010 season, the Rams found themselves standing one win shy of the State Tournament with a record of 7-13. Fast forward one year to the start of the 2011 season, and the Rams have made it clear that they're not about to let it happen again.
"Basically we just have to stay more focused," senior captain and pitcher Alex Farina said. "Our work ethic is a lot better this year than last year so that'll definitely be a factor. I love what I'm seeing so far. We're hitting, fielding and pitching very well all the way through."
New Canaan has had every opportunity to get ready for regular season game action, as the Rams have taken advantage of the chance to see live pitching by participating in multiple scrimmages. From March 26 through April 2, the Rams played five scrimmages, including three against FCIAC counterparts Stamford, Trinity Catholic and Westhill.
"We're looking good so far. We're hitting which was sometimes our problem last year and our fielding has been good so far," New Canaan senior captain and pitcher and outfielder Pete Meadows said.
The Rams have identified team chemistry as one of their biggest strengths with senior captain Tom Krieger, who pitches and plays first base, even drawing comparisons to New Canaan's 25-1 hockey team.
"I think there's a great camaraderie with the guys this year. Everybody like each other a lot and we get along and we're all friends in school," Krieger said. "That's what we had with the hockey team, and I think we have the same atmosphere here with this baseball team."
Farina, Kreiger and Meadows are likely to anchor the pitching rotation with Farina and Meadows moving to the outfield alongside Matt Sammarco when they're not on the mound. Casey Ouellette is likely to be penciled in as the starting catcher, while Andrew Casali, Willie Burger, Doug Reilly, Chris Laird and Will Carl are all expected to see time in the infield.
Second year head coach Mitch Hoffman said that he's placed an emphasis on playing good team defense in 2011, a philosophy which his players have bought into.
"Last year we lost most of our games by just a couple of runs, and if we eliminate some of the mistakes we made last year I think our turnout will be a lot better in the win column," senior captain and leftfielder Cameron Armstrong said. "A lot of guys played throughout the fall and winter so the defensive skills so far are crisp, and we'll be looking to get better throughout the season."
Hoffman went on to say that there are several ongoing position battles, and he believes that the heightened competition is serving to make his players even sharper. New Canaan graduated nine players in 2010, so the Rams had a new-look lineup on opening day.
"Every infield position is different from last year. It's created a lot of competition, and competition brings success," Hoffman said.
Despite missing out on postseason play in 2010, Hoffman wasn't shy about expressing lofty expectations for the Rams in 2010, stating that he not only expects to make both the State and FCIAC tournaments, but to compete for both crowns.
"When we start we expect nothing less than to win every game that we play in," Hoffman said. "Our goal is to win both [FCIACs and State's] and we won't compromise for anything less."
So far, New Canaan is 2-1 with a 7-2 win over Danbury, an 11-2 win over Harding and a 2-1 loss to Darien.