Updated: Feb 22, 2019
All Division 1 teams were previewed. Leagues without a team in Division 1 were not included.
This week, reporter Alex Scarr previews the Western League as part of his City-wide preview roundup.
You can feel it. The winter chill has given way to a spring thaw, as low 60s turn to high 60s and the heavy coats return to the closet for another 10 months.
Coaches and groundskeepers have been hard at work laying sod, dragging infields, and tarping mounds for months. Baseball season is nearly here.
With just a few days until baseball season begins in earnest (with some early tournaments already underway), it’s as good a time as ever to look around the City Section. Who’s been doing towel drills? Who ran the extra pole? Who wants a trip to Dodger Stadium in June?
Hope springs eternal. Let’s get to it.
Head Coach: Mike Voelkel
2018: (lost in Open Division first round)
Key Losses: Benji Taylor, Josh Barzilai
Key Returners: Wyatt Loncar, Will Coquillard
Coach quote: “We have good quality and depth with our pitching staff. Our Athleticism should provide some positive with scoring runs and preventing runs on defense. This year should be a lot of fun.”
Outlook: The Dolphins snagged yet another Western League title in 2018 and to be frank, they ought to run away with it again in 2019. They’ve lost Benji Taylor, but senior arms Will Coquillard (Georgia Tech) and Wyatt Loncar (Ohio State) hold D-1 commitments and will dominate most lineups. Shortstop Julian Scissors is a defensive stud. Open Division is well within reach for Palisades, and a good outing or two from their aces could craft one of the better Dodger Stadium runs in recent memory.
Head Coach: Nicholas Winnie
2018: 17-9 (lost in D-1 first round)
Key Losses: Daniel Crasnick, Jake Levey, Duncan Dye
Key Returners: Fino Amador, Milo Goode, Ethan Toothman
Outlook: Losing Daniel Crasnick to graduation is going to take a lot of wind out of the Yankees’ sails. Crasnick was one of the best pure hitters in the Section last year and offered above average defense behind the plate. As Hami tries to fill that gaping chasm left by Big Craz, they’ll be left with other questions, specifically, who gets the ball in a big game? They lost senior ace Jake Levey to graduation. Is it Fino Amador? He may be better suited staying at shortstop. Milo Goode has thrown well in spots but fell apart towards the end of the year. The Yanks will be challenged in 2019.
Head Coach: Kevin Brockaway
2018: 17-18 (lost in D-1 quarterfinals)
Key Losses: Jashia Morrissey, Vincent Diaz, Isaac Razon, Johnny Case
Key Returners: Luke Boulanger, Bruce Yamamoto, Ethan Anderson, Jerry Valencia
Coach quote: “We’re looking to compete to the best of our ability which did not happen in 2018; a very disappointing season. Bruce Yamamoto is someone we are counting on to be a big part of our season. The infield and catching our the strong points for 2019.”
Outlook: I may be as high on Luke Boulanger as I am on anyone in the City Section. He was the Gondos’ starting third baseball last season as a freshman, and although he’s shifting to second this year, he should anchor that lineup for several years provided he doesn’t transfer. Speaking of transfers, phenom shortstop and pitcher Jashia Morrissey has left for Gardena Serra and will help the Cavs of the Southern Section before he heads off to Cal State Bakersfield. That’s a huge loss. Jacob Manzella becomes the de-facto ace in Morrissey’s absence, and he knows how to get guys out. They’ll be piecing it together as they go.
Head Coach: Vic Buttler
2018 record: 8-11 (lost D-1 first round)
Key Losses: Adari Lesley, Chase Strong
Key Returners: Ali Samaad, Michael Shackelford
Coach quote: “Mental toughness combined with athleticism and a balanced skill set should could give our 2019 Comet squad a good chance of really competing this spring season. Our team will be led by senior Mike Shackleford, junior Samaad Ali, and sophomore pitching prospect Makai Morisaki.”
Outlook: Westchester is a basketball school, no doubts about it. But I watched Michael Shackelford crush a baseball onto Sunset Boulevard in a game against Palisades, and junior shortstop Ali Samaad looks like he can hold it down. The Comets are a very young team, having lost only two seniors to graduation, and the lineup will be very much the same as last year. They will struggle to get better teams out and walks will consistently hurt them, but they’re going to get up to the plate and hack. Fool them once…
Head Coach: Louie Noguera
2018 record: 16-8 (Lost in D-2 finals)
Key Losses: Finn Starzyk, Christian Gonzalez, Hans Seo
Key Returners: Jordan Durrell, Kai Moran
Outlook: A D-2 darling from a year ago, LACES came up just short, falling to Roybal in the Division-II final at USC. They’ve moved up to D-1 now and the big fish-small pond aura is officially out the window. They lost a whopping 13 seniors to graduation after the 2018 season, and they’ll need big outings from sophomore Kai Moran to replace graduated ace Finn Starzyk. Will consistent production at the plate from Jordan Durrell soften the blow of losing top hitters Christian Gonzalez and Hans Seo? I say no.