Pates back to defend
After winning the District 11 6A title last season, Freedom now has the bull’s-eye on their backs heading into this spring.
The Pates, who won their first district title since 1999 last spring in a 2-1 win over Parkland, enter with expectations, but also with a lack of experience from last year’s Cinderella run through the district tournament as a seventh seed.
“Our goals are always to make the playoffs, win an EPC title and district gold,” said head coach Nick D’Amico. “Our young players will need to step up with the guidance of the returning seniors from last years district championship team.”
Freedom finished 16-10 a year ago and return a solid core to this year’s group including Sr. Derek Bast 3B, Sr. C Adam Throne, Sr. Cameron Biery 2B, Sr. Caleb Husser, Sr. Sandy Hernandez SS, Sr. Spencer LaRiviere OF, Sr. Joey Stofanak, Sr. Dylann Paar SS, Sr. Matthew Schaeffer OF, Jr. OF-1B-P Nick Stannard and Jr. Conor Howland OF-P.
Other notables on the roster that will contribute include Jr. Alec Bove, Jr. Cade Horwath, Jr. Jimmy Moniz, Jr. Preston Mestric P-OF, Jr. Patrick Gill OF, Soph. Nate Mikulski OF-P-1B, Soph. Garrett Glick SS-2B and Fr. Andres Suarez C.
With the Pates having an entirely new pitching staff this season, D’Amico knows how far the team sinks or swims could depend on the quality of their arms.
“Our team strengths will be defense,” D’Amico said. “Our pitching is unproven and will need to step up, as we lost all starting pitchers from last year’s team. We have a lot of unproven talent and need to see how they will handle the pressure of varsity baseball.”