Weekly Feature



2014-04-09 / Sports

Bulldogs playing with a chip on their shoulder

Baseball previews
BRANDON KILIJANSKI
Sports Reporter


Kenmore East junior captain Lucas Simmons, left, stretches out to catch a throw down to second base as the St. Mary’s base runner approaches. The Bulldogs traveled to St. Mary’s on Sunday for a scrimmage. It was their first time this spring playing outside. 
Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Kenmore East junior captain Lucas Simmons, left, stretches out to catch a throw down to second base as the St. Mary’s base runner approaches. The Bulldogs traveled to St. Mary’s on Sunday for a scrimmage. It was their first time this spring playing outside. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Kenmore East may have been just 6-15 last year, but head coach Les Simon has seven returning starters this year who know this season presents an opportunity.

“Most everyone is back and that’s a good thing,” said Simon. “If we have the season we wish to have, then last year was worth it for the experience.”

Eight of the 15 players on the roster are seniors. Historically, the Bulldogs have succeeded with a roster full of seniors. The key will be to have those seniors come up with some timely hitting and defense.

“We’ve had good teams here when senior-laden, and this year we are,” said Simon. “We are not young and inexperienced so we have high hopes. Early on in tryouts, we talked about why we didn’t have success last year. Not because we didn’t work hard or a lack of effort, but we didn’t do anything timely and didn’t play good situational baseball.”

Of the seven returning starters, four are captains this year, including seniors Connor McMahon, Preston Smith and Jeff White, and junior Lucas Simmons.

Smith was also a captain last year and will be slotted third in the batting order this season while playing both first and second base.

“He is a skilled athlete who will drive runs in,” said Simon. “Preston is an intense competitor who desperately wants to win. He has the fire that winning teams need.”

McMahon will be batting leadoff and playing center field. Last season he hit .414.

White will be the Bulldogs’ ace on the mound. Last season he threw a no-hitter during spring training in Myrtle Beach.

“I think he can be as good a pitcher as anyone in the league,” said Simon. “We need him to be an ace and lock down every game he pitches.”

Simmons will be starting at shortstop for the third consecutive season.

“He is a terrific player who is out there 12 months a year; he is a pure baseball guy,” said Simon.

Other experienced players on the team include left fielder Richie Brinkman; pitcher and infielder Robbie McNamara; and designated hitter and first baseman Mc- Quaid Smyth.

“Our greatest strength is our experience and talent, and that we are athletic,” said Simon. “We have a frame of reference because they have been through the league once. Experience can be a very valuable learning tool in sports.”

There will be a battle for the starting catcher job between senior Richard Shotwell and junior Luke Jones.

Freshman Ryan Williams will be in the mix on the mound.

“He has a live arm and swings the bat well,” said Simon. “He throws the ball very well for a young kid.”

The Bulldogs scrimmaged St. Mary’s on the Lancers’ partial turf field on Sunday. It was Ken East’s first time being out on a diamond this season.

“For the first time on a diamond we played well, and there were many positives,” said Simon. Our pitchers all threw strikes. Offensively, we put lots of balls in play. It made all of us realize we have a chance to be a very good baseball team.”

Ken East leaves for a week of spring training on Saturday in Socastee, S.C., for the Mingo Bay Classic in Myrtle Beach. The Bulldogs will play a total of four games against Corning East High School, Jamestown and Capital High School (West Virginia); the last team has yet to be determined.

This season is being dedicated to the memory of coach Bob Marafino. He was the inaugural baseball coach at Kenmore East and held the position for 25 years. Marafino is a member of the Kenmore East Athletic Hall of Fame and sadly passed away last month.

“I was close with him and he followed us very close, so we are dedicating this year to him,” said Simon.

Return to top