Hale-Ray baseball team aiming for tournament bid
By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Mon., May. 9, 2011
“We’ve been sort of a streaky team,” said Nathan Hale-Ray High School head baseball coach Rich Gable, as his team, on a three-game losing streak, prepared to play Valley Regional on May 6 and hopefully get one step closer to their goal of receiving a Shoreline Conference tournament bid.
“It still could happen, but we need to start winning some ballgames, and a lot of them,” said Gable, before his team shut out Valley Regional, raising their record to 6-7. He believes 12 wins will get them to the conference tournament. And with only seven games remaining, there is little margin for error.
Consistency has been the problem during the recent losing streak, said Gable, although overall play has not been bad.
“We just haven’t played a complete game,” he said, with the team often coming out flat or being unable to close out games in which they have held a lead.
“It comes down to the defensive side of things. Offensively, we’ve done enough to win ball games. But the defense – it’s been great at times - has not been there consistently. The one thing we preach here is to make all of the routine plays and to pitch well, because that’s where it all starts. The offense will take of itself,” said Gable.
With four seniors graduating after this season, Gable is fortunate to have a strong group of underclassmen to help lead the team next year.
Infielder Matt Wells is “at or near the top of all of our offensive categories. He’s a real baseball guy, and he’s the voice and energy of our team,” said Gable, while cleanup hitter Shawn Carlson “is a fierce competitor. He drives in runs and is just an overall quality guy,” said Gable.
Nathan Hale-Ray Baseball Coach Rich Gable is in his 12th year as head coach.
“My expectations were to compete for a Shoreline Conference tournament bid and to maybe make some noise there. As always, our ultimate goal is to win the championship, whether it’s conference or state.”
Seniors: Kenny Conover, Zach LaFemina, Pete Olsen and J.T. Smith.
Players to Watch-
#10 J.T. Smith – Senior, Catcher
A Second Team All-Shoreline player last year, Smith “is the consummate leader, both by example and by his voice. He’s the backbone of our team,” said Gable. At or near the top of all team offensive categories, he is also “a quality catcher, recognized by the other coaches in the league. And he’s great in the classroom. His academics are supreme,” said Gable.
#14 Zach LaFemina – Senior, Centerfielder
Named All-Shoreline last year, LaFemina “is a savvy baseball player. He’s pretty much a five-tool player. He plays the outfield as well as anybody, he runs down balls and has a consistent, accurate arm. He brings lots of speed to the top of the lineup and hits the ball all over the field. He really puts the pressure on the other team,” said Gable.