South Windsor varsity baseball team finds its stride mid-season

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Fri., May. 3, 2013
Pitcher Dan Bettigole winds up. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Pitcher Dan Bettigole winds up. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

The South Windsor High School varsity baseball team came off a very impressive season last year. “Last year we had a good run. We finished 15-5, and won four games in a row to get to the state final game, where we lost to Shelton 7-2,” said head coach James Abbott. The team relied heavily on the talent of 10 seniors last year. When they graduated, Abbott was not sure how the 2013 season would go.

The team is now halfway through the season. “We started off the season a little shaky. We were 1-2 after three, but after seven consecutive victories we got to 8-2,” said Abbott the morning of Wednesday, May 1. While a loss to Hall High School that afternoon would bring their record to 8-3, overall he views the team as being on the better end of a learning curve. “We’re playing much, much better baseball,” he said.

He attributes the improvement to two reasons. Firstly, the young team, composed of many junior varsity players from last year, seems to have found its stride. “We’re starting to gain confidence,” said Abbott. Secondly, they have cleared up early-season confusion in regard to positions. “There was a lot of trial and error over positions. Who is short stop, who is first base,” he said. Eventually, the matter was worked out for the better. “Defense has improved incredibly, which is probably the biggest thing,” he said.

Abbott is highly conscious that the team is in a tough division. “I tell the guys that we have a nice record right now, but it’s not like we’re beating teams 18 to nothing. Every game is close and in this division you can lose three to four games in a row real quick,” he said. “We just take every game one at a time and hopefully continue to play as well as we had the last six, seven games.”

There are four key players whom Abbott considers the “cornerstone” of the team. “The anchor to the rotation is a senior who had a great year last year and is having a great year this year, Dan Bettigole,” said Abbott. Bettigole is the lead pitcher.

“Another kid, who was backup last year, is my catcher,” he said. “He played behind an All-Conference catcher last year and didn’t get much play time last year.” This catcher, Patrick Foley, now a senior, has taken ownership of the position this year. “He has been a really solid defender behind the plate. And he’s hitting the ball well, as well,” the coach said.

“I have one newcomer who was a JV player last year who settled in the short stop position, Mike Bastis, and he’s playing really well at short,” Abbott said. “He’s hitting somewhere in the mid-400s right now, which is number three in the order. That’s been a really nice surprise this year.”

He also points out junior Nick Nowak, who is the lead hitter as well as the number two pitcher. “He’s really coming into his own as well,” Abbott said.

Despite the rocky beginning and early misgivings, the head coach is pleased with the season thus far. “It’s been a pleasant surprise so far,” he said.

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