Baseball – 2021 Shore Conference Preview: Wall
As the lone defending overall NJSIAA group champion in the Shore Conference, Wall just may have skipped a year of growing pains in 2020 and gone right to the part where it gets to contend for another state championship in 2021. Realistically, however, the Crimson Knights newcomers did not get a chance to acclimate themselves to varsity baseball, so the practice reps and the travel ball games late last summer and in the fall will have to be enough to prepare what will be an inexperienced team for a difficult B North slate.
Wall could very well have had success last season with standout two-way senior Teddy Sharkey leading the way, but now that the 2020 supporting cast is a year older, this year’s team could have a little more balance to it. There is still a two-way standout in the mix, with senior Jay Bant two years removed from a strong first season at the plate and ready to help lead the pitching staff as well.
While Bant is the lone returning starter from that 2019 squad, catcher Max Harrell and middle infielder Christian Cosenza are two more seniors who were around that group every day and are ready to play important positions on the field now that it is their turn. Ryan Legere, Max Kaplan and Justin Cofone are three more seniors embracing starting roles in the lineup after waiting behind that accomplished 2019 class.
A strong junior core will also be a key ingredient this season, led by Duke commit Andrew Fischer. While he profiles best as a third baseman at the next level, Fischer is set to open the season as Wall’s starting shortstop and could also take third when Bant pitches. Classmates Nick Lovarco and Jerry Winchester are two-way players who will get starts in the outfield and Jackson Coan and Nick Colbert are two more juniors that could get at-bats and innings in the field with a lot of the starters in the field likely to shuffle to the mound.
Speaking of the mound, Wall will have some questions to answer in the pitching staff but enough options to feel optimistic about it. Senior Jim Bertrand will be high up in the rotation, with classmates Bobby Leete and Ryan Lasko also in the mix. Fischer, Winchester and Lavarco all have the arms to help the cause and sophomore Matt Johnson is another two-way talent to watch on a Crimson Knights team that should be dangerous once their entire picture comes into focus.
Wall at a Glance
Head Coach: Jim Rochford, first season
Key Losses: Teddy Sharkey (CF/RHP), Sean Nocera (OF), Matt Croson (SS), Sean Brannon (INF), Fredo DiPaola (OF)
Around the Diamond (Returning 2019 starters in bold with available stats)
Catcher: Max Harrell, Sr.
First Base: Ryan Legere, Sr.
Second Base: Christian Cosenza, Sr.; Nick Colbert, Jr.
Shortstop: Andrew Fischer, Jr.; Gabe Cavozzoni, So.
Third Base: Jay Bant, Sr. (.341/.396/.477, 6 2B, 2 HR, 16 R, 27 RBI); Andrew Fischer, Jr.
Leftfield: Max Kaplan, Sr.
Centerfield: Nick Lovarco, Jr.
Rightfield: Jerry Winchester, Jr.
DH: Justin Cofone, Sr., INF
Other Key Hitters
Jackson Coan (Jr., OF)
James Petrides (Sr., OF)
Matt Vita (Sr., OF)
Matt Johnson (So., 1B)
Jay Bant, Sr., RHP
Jim Bertrand, Sr., LHP
Andrew Fischer, Jr., RHP
Nick Lovarco, Jr., RHP
Bobby Leete, Sr., RHP
Ryan Lasko, Sr., RHP
Jake Burt, Jr., RHP
Jerry Winchester, Jr., RHP
Matt Johnson, So., RHP
Jay Bant – Monmouth University
Max Harrell – Charleston College (W.V.)
Max Kaplan – Lebanon Valley College
Matt Vita – Thomas Jefferson University
Bobby Leete – Fairleigh Dickinson University
Andrew Fischer – Duke University