Seniors will be key to success for 2019 baseball season

After missing out last season, the team is hoping to earn a spot back in the state playoffs

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Seniors will be key to success for 2019 baseball season

Senior shortstop Chandler Simpson at media day. Simpson will play for the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

Senior shortstop Chandler Simpson at media day. Simpson will play for the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

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Senior shortstop Chandler Simpson at media day. Simpson will play for the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

Garrett Loges

Garrett Loges

Senior shortstop Chandler Simpson at media day. Simpson will play for the University of Alabama at Birmingham next year.

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While spring won’t arrive for several more weeks, the 2019 varsity baseball season is already well underway. The year brings a new core of seniors and new uniforms, but the drive to win remains the same.

Last year’s standout players Will David, Jackson Doyle and Will Arnold left big shoes to fill, all moving on to play in college. Top seniors on the roster expected to fill this void are Chandler Simpson, Mike Spear and Matt Horner. Simpson thinks their own determination that will decide how far this team can go.

“If everybody is up for the challenge to reach the ultimate goal, then I think we’ll have a lot of success in the future,” Simpson said.

Simpson is expected to have a record-setting year before leaving to play Division 1 baseball at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Simpson’s defensive play at shortstop, speed on the basepaths and excellent batting average make him the team’s most valuable player. At the start of the season, he had 67 career hits and 40 career stolen bases. 

Although he’s already left his mark on the St. Pius X baseball program, Simpson believes he still has more to prove as a Golden Lion.

“I want to win and help us go as long as possible throughout the playoffs, and hopefully break some records which would be cool too,” Simpson said.

The senior class also includes Daniel Teran, Zach Siebert, Justin Doychak, Nick Kosek, Anthony Ficco, DJ Mitchell, Ryan Planas, and Will Briones, but the expectations will not rest solely on their shoulders. The team is hoping that a solid group of returning players, including juniors Jacob Pajer and Matt Turner, as well as freshman Will Tippett step up and deliver when needed.

Briones said he’s optimistic and excited for Tippett’s future.

“I think he’s a freak athlete and the future is very bright for him,” Briones said.

With the new year also comes new drip. The team will sport three new adidas jerseys with the traditional button down white and navy piping for home, a grey jersey for away games and a vintage v-neck alternate jersey with the classic blue and gold color color scheme.

Assistant coach Andrew Mabini was pleased with the change.

“The inspiration behind the three new baseball uniforms was about bringing in a little bit of new and bringing back some of the old days,” Mabini said.

Part of bringing back the old days also includes a return to the postseason. After missing the state playoffs last year, the team is setting their focus on securing the region to qualify for state this season. Coach Mabini believes simplicity is what the Golden Lions need to go on a good run and make this goal a reality. 

“I think a key to success for this group is all about being a family and doing the little things,” Mabini said. “We are all about the blue collar and bulldawg like mentality, grinding to win each moment every day for each other.”

The team is currently 0-3 after a tough opening series against Jefferson, the defending state champs, but they are hopeful that a string of wins will soon overshadow the losses. With the passing of the torch to the 2019 seniors, expect big things from the Golden Lions baseball team.