By Andrew Hahn and Sophia Vlahakis
Armed with pitching and fueled by a 14-9 season that ended in a heartbreaking quarter-finals loss, Manhasset baseball is ready to get back to play. But don’t sleep on them, because to the team, they are fully capable of doing damage.
“Manhasset baseball as a program is seen as an underdog,”assistant coach Derek Jones had commented. “We’re not taken seriously, but other teams don’t understand the depth [we have].”
That depth applies to the team’s strongest attribute, the pitching. The Indians can be expected to rely greatly on run prevention, but the group of pitchers are a threat with strong arms and even good secondary pitches. Among these pitchers are senior Cole Zaffiro and sophomore Jake Moss.
“We have so many pitchers it’s like an embarrassment of riches,” Head Coach Mark Giardino said.
A new conference structure where each team plays each other once, will allow Manhasset to not worry about matching pitchers and work each game individually. Complementing the pitching is an all-around strong defense with shortstop Colin Hanlon and outfielder Michael McGoey.
“There won’t be a better center fielder in Nassau County than McGoey,” Giardino said.
Hanlon, the senior and NYU baseball commit, praised the team’s catcher who he expects to be a dark horse and emerge as a crucial contributor.
“[Senior catcher] Matthew Lehoisky is going to have a monster season this year,” Hanlon stated. “He is an absolute workhorse in the weight room and on the field. I truly believe that his drive and talent will help our team win a county championship.”
The offense may be the question mark of the season, but to the Indians it’s underrated.
“One of our biggest and most overlooked strengths is our deep lineup,” Hanlon commented. “We have a group of really great hitters and with our elite pitching staff, the lineup sometimes gets forgotten. We need to focus on having team at-bats instead of prioritizing our own individual statistics.”
Another big factor for the 2020 baseball team—leadership. Much of the roster is made up of returning players and that comes with not just varsity experience, but playoff experience. The team has expressed that the communicative leadership from the seniors to the sophomores is expected to be big in starting off strong, continuing to improve and has already been influential throughout the preseason.
“The team has outstanding chemistry and is a family of brothers, both on and off the field,” Hanlon said. “Everyone on the team is willing to work hard and go to war for each other.
This is what will push us deep into the postseason, get us through the rough patches and will hopefully bring us a Nassau County title.”
In the past 10 years, Manhasset has made three semifinal and two quarterfinal appearances, and this year that playoff expectation is the same.
“We’re approaching the season with a redemption mindset,” Jones said. “We want the opportunity to change the narrative and surprise others. But we won’t be surprising ourselves.”
Andrew Hahn and Sophia Vlahakis are students at the Manhasset Secondary School.