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Holmdel lost an important developmental year for its returning players but the good news is there are a lot of returning players. Only three of them started in 2019, but the pitching staff and infield that entered camp in 2020 remain almost entirely intact for 2021, giving the Hornets plenty of reasons for optimism. Throw in a revamped home field and the arrow is pointing up for Holmdel.

Seniors Louie Curcio and Brett Hilsheimer already have experience as varsity starters and will man the keystone and the hot corner, respectively. Hilsheimer is also part of a promising pitching staff that will be led by senior left-hander Jake Umans, who is ready to elevate from rotation contributor to staff leader.

Holmdel senior Brett Hilsheimer. (Photo by Steve Meyer)
Holmdel senior Brett Hilsheimer. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

Andrew Woodward and Christian Gravier are two more seniors to shore up the pitching staff, with Woodward also moving into the shortstop spot two years after missing his sophomore season due to injury. Catcher Jason Sparkes also lost a year to injury before losing another to the pandemic and the senior is ready to prove he is among the Shore’s top backstops.

Sophomores Brandon Cieplensky and Tim Haggerty, as well as freshman James Vallilo, are the impact underclassmen in the Holmdel lineup. Vallillo and Haggerty will join seniors Reese and Sam Goldberg in the outfield, where Holmdel will have more inexperience than it has throughout the infield and the pitching staff. With plenty of leadership at key positions and some upside in the pitching staff, though, there is a lot to like about this year’s Hornets club.

Holmdel senior Jake Umans. (Photo by Steve Meyer)
Holmdel senior Jake Umans. (Photo by Steve Meyer)

Holmdel at a Glance

Head Coach: Chris Arecchi, fourth season
Key Losses: Sal Marzano (OF), Nick Ammirati (OF), Mike Lobifaro (OF)

Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)

Catcher: Jason Sparkes, Sr.

First Base:  Brandon Cieplensky, So.

Second Base: Louie Curcio, Sr. (.215/.346/.261, 3 2B, 12 R, 5 RBI)

Shortstop: Andrew Woodward, Sr.

Third Base: Brett Hilsheimer, Sr. (.186/.296/.220, 2 2B, 8 R, 12 RBI)

Left Field: Reese Goldberg, Sr.

Center Field: James Vallilo, Fr.

Right Field: Tim Haggerty, So.

DH: Sean Brescia (Jr., 1B)

Other Key Hitters

Sam Goldberg (Sr., OF)

Mike McConnell (Sr., OF)

John Spallin (Jr., OF)

Alex Price (Jr., C)

James Hanley (Jr., INF)

Brayden Savage (Fr., C)


Jake Umans, Sr., LHP

Christian Gravier, Sr., RHP

Brett Hilsheimer, Sr., RHP

Andrew Woodward, Sr., RHP

Reese Goldberg, Sr., RHP

J.V. Lobifaro, Jr., RHP

Brandon Cieplensky, So., LHP

Max Woodward, So., RHP


College Commitments

Louie Curcio – Centenary University

Brett Hilsheimer – Kean University

Jake Umans – Alvernia University

Andrew Woodward – Le Moyne College


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