Patriots are working hard to start climbing the ladder

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TOWNSEND – First-year North Middlesex coach Tom Bartelson is faced with a large task as he attempts to rebuild the program, especially in tough MidWach A, where the Patriots reside. Bartelson has been putting the team through their paces and working hard on fundamentals, taking advantage of the balmy spring weather conditions.

“My concerns heading into the season are to establish a winning mentality and to try to get the team to remain focused,” said Bartelson. “I think we have good pitching, good team speed and I think we’ll be strong up the middle. The key to the season is to stay healthy, and to be aggressive, but smart at the plate.”

Junior Chris Tully will start behind the plate.

“Chris is a strong line drive hitter with some power and he’ll hit either second or third,” said Bartelson. “He gives us stability and strong defense behind the plate, and he communicates well.”

Two starting infield positions are set, with senior Bill Stecchi at first base, and junior Matt Butcher at second.

“Bill is solid defensively and has sure hands,” said Bartelson. “He hits the ball hard and will bat either fourth or fifth.

“Matt is a fireplug and is a smart player with good range,” said Bartelson. “He is level-headed and coachable.”

A pair of talented seniors are competing for the starting shortstop slot – Derek Clements and Rob Ordway.

“Derek will be our number one pitcher and he is a righthanded power pitcher with good control who works off his fastball,” said Bartelson. Defensively at shortstop he has good range and knows where to position himself. Offensively, he is a strong hitter with power, and he should be a run producer from the middle of the lineup.

“Rob will be our number two pitcher and is a righthander with good off-speed stuff,” said Bartelson. “He has good range and a strong arm at shortstop, and brings some pop to the lineup offensively.”

Competing for the starting third base position are senior Kenny Aucoin and sophomore Ryan O’Neil.

“Kenny has good size and a strong arm,” said Bartelson. “He has worked hard and shown a lot of determination, and he has some power offensively.

“Ryan can also catch and is tough and raw and just needs some experience,” said Bartelson. “He has good hands and puts the ball in play offensively. He is a spray hitter who uses the opposite field.”

The starting outfield is set with junior Sam McGrath in left field, junior Steve Burke in center field, and junior Ryan Baldinelli in right field.

“Sam is a great defensive player with a lot of range,” said Bartelson. “He is smart and tracks the ball well. Offensively, he is a spray hitter with good speed.

“Steve has excellent speed and has gap-to-gap range,” said Bartelson. “He will also be our number three pitcher.

“Ryan has a lot of energy and is a left-handed who could see some time on the mound,” said Bartelson. “I want him to use his speed offensively by hitting the ball on the ground. He is working on his drag bunting and could be the leadoff hitter.”

Players who have made a serious push for playing time include junior first baseman Rich LaFlamme, senior pitcher-outfielder Greg Trust, and junior pitcher Ben Laplante.

“Rich is athletic and is a very good defensive player,” said Bartelson. “Greg has shown the ability to keep the ball low and throw strikes and is making a bid for innings on the mound. Ben has good control and hits his spots, and gets his defense involved behind him.”

Also adding depth for the Pats this season will be sophomore outfielder Joe Colameta, junior outfielder Pat Collins, sophomore outfielder Mike Cronin, junior first baseman-designated hitter, junior third baseman-outfielder Ben Burud, and junior catcher-outfielder Brian Ouellette.

“Joe, Pat and Mike all have a solid understanding about playing the outfield,” said Bartelson. “Josh is a left-handed hitter who makes contact and can go the other way. Ben is versatile and adds pop offensively. Brian is hard working, coachable and has been hitting the ball well.”

What is this year’s gameplan?

“We are working on our fundamentals and we plan on being aggressive and challenging our opponents to make plays,” said Bartelson.