The Shore Daily, 3/30/15
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Baseball season is almost upon us, with Opening Day for the Shore Conference season coming up on Wednesday as the Shore tries to match a banner 2014 season in which a record three teams won NJSIAA Group titles.
Our resident baseball expert, Matt Manley, has been rolling out his in-depth previews of each division, with the "B" divisions set to be posted in the coming days leading up to the start of the season along with the preseason Shore Sports Network Top 10.
Class A North preview - Can anyone stop CBA?
Class A Central preview - Manasquan leads a wide-open race
Class A South preview - Jackson Memorial is the front-runner in a loaded division
As far as returning talent, there are a host of All-Shore players back in the fold looking to duplicate or surpass great 2014 seasons. Jackson Memorial senior pitcher/infielder Brandon Janofsky, who was lights-out in leading the Jaguars to the Group IV title last season, is a first-team All-Shore pick who is back along with Toms River North shortstop Joey Rose, an Oklahoma State recruit who is one of the top juniors in New Jersey.
Christian Brothers Academy ace and North Carolina recruit Luca Dalatri, who had a season for the ages in going 11-0 with a 0.39 ERA to earn SSN Pitcher of the Year honors last season, is back as a junior to try to put his name in the CBA record books and help the Colts grab multiple tournament titles like they did last season. Rumson-Fair Haven senior Morgan Maguire, fresh off a strong basketball season, also returns after a huge season at the plate as a junior. He also is a standout on the mound who is committed to Old Dominion.
Wall senior Dan Wondrack, a College of Charleston recruit, returns as one of the top backstops in the Shore along with CBA junior North Carolina recruit Brandon Martorano. Virginia recruit Jon Meola is back as a senior at shortstop for Toms River East, and Rutgers recruit Carmen Sclafani returns as a senior at shortstop for Brick in a Class A South division that is one again chocked full of talent. Another member of a loaded CBA squad, senior outfielder Will Morgan, another Old Dominion recruit, is back after pounding out 15 extra-base hits last season.
Monmouth Regional senior Matt Vincenti also looks to be one of the Shore's top outfielders after a second-team All-Shore season in which he hit .346 with a .474 on-base percentage. Wall also brings back do-it-all senior Ryan Orender, a pitcher-third baseman who looks to be key to the Crimson Knights' Class B North title hopes. While losing superstar pitcher Jason Groome to IMG Academy was a blow to Barnegat, the Bengals do return second-team All-Shore pitcher John Corbett, who was 6-2 with a 1.49 ERA last season.
Colts Neck brings back third-team All-Shore first baseman Tyler Kapuscinski, a Marist recruit who hit .406 and delivered several clutch hits last season. Matawan returns senior outfielder Joe Piscopo, who is also a basketball standout, after he hit a scorching .453 last season in earning third-team All-Shore honors from SSN. St. Rose senior outfielder Johnny Kussmaul looks to be one of Class B Central's top players under new coach Chris Lemore after hitting a robust .509 last season. In B South, Central senior Anthony Arneth returns to try to fill the shoes of Alabama freshman Andrew DiPiazza, the SSN Player of the Year for 2014, after Arneth went 5-3 with a 1.14 ERA last season.
Two other third-team selections from last season return in the pitching-rich Class A North - Middletown South junior Austin Markmann and Marlboro senior Andrew Nardi, both of whom had ERAs under 2.00 last season. Nardi is a Radford University recruit.
In commitment news, Manasquan senior catcher Tyler Bradley is headed to Furman University on an ROTC scholarship and hopes to become a member of the Division I baseball team there.
Speaking of Joe Piscopo, the Matawan senior guard committed to Centenary College over the weekend. He joins Southern's Jake Logue among the incoming class at Centenary.
The offers keep rolling in for St. John Vianney junior quarterback Anthony Brown and sophomore lineman Micah Clarke.
Also, Holmdel junior wide receiver Pete Savrides, who was among the Shore Conference leaders with 45 catches for 713 yards and 6 touchdowns, has transferred to IMG Academy in Florida.
NJSCA HALL OF FAME
Five Shore Conference coaches and one athletic trainer were inducted into the New Jersey State Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Sunday at the annual NJSIAA luncheon at the Pines Manor in Edison.
Ocean Township field hockey coach Donna DeNoble and Spartans' boys soccer coach Tom Reilly, Toms River North tennis coach Steve Hill, Central girls basketball coach John Truhan, and Henry Hudson boys basketball and baseball coach Vinnie Whitehead were all enshrined in addition to Monmouth Regional athletic trainer Lee-Ann Pearce.
Also honored was St. John Vianney baseball coach Mike Morgan, who received the New Jersey and Northeast region Coach of the Year award after leading the Lancers to their first NJSIAA Non-Public A title since 1981 last season, which included finishing No. 1 in the state.
More on Monday:
- A big first half by Manasquan grad Michaela Mabrey helped Notre Dame reach its fifth straight women's Final Four last night.
- Michigan State football will be counting on Middletown North grad Shilique Calhoun to be a leader this fall.
- St. Rose grad Anthony Ranaudo lost the competition for the Texas Rangers' fifth-starter spot and was optioned to Triple-A.
- Monmouth University baseball coach Dean Ehehalt picked up his 600th career win over the weekend.
- The New York Giants have moved former Raritan star Bennett Jackson from cornerback to safety.
- Steph Curry has invested in a start-up that connects youth athletes with personal coaches.
- Two old friends have attended 34 straight Final Fours together, starting with Michael Jordan's freshman year at North Carolina.
- Buena pitcher Denny Brady, who outdueled Jason Groome in the state playoffs last season, was home-schooled until he got to high school and was 50-50 on even attending high school.
- A former Gloucester Catholic star who is now a pitcher for Central Connecticut State has battled back from blood cancer to become an impact player.
- A top SEC football recruit is a dead ringer for WWE star Brock Lesnar.
- The Florida high school association has required girls lacrosse players to wear protective headgear this season, which has caused a controversy.
On tap for today: Lacrosse action continues today, while baseball starts in two days. At least it's over 50 degrees out, so we got that going for us.
I'll end with Blake Griffin's crazy 180 blocked shot and Point Beach grad Matt Farrell enjoying the moment as Notre Dame nearly shocked Kentucky on Saturday.