Rocco DiStefano headed to Springfield College.
Photo and text by Steev Riccardo
The local high school teams could not have had better weather to kick off their spring campaigns last week. With the actual games starting in about a week, the teams are narrowing down their rosters and getting ready to get their seasons underway. Baseball, softball, tennis, track, lacrosse, we got it all.
Finding their “Way”: The Bartlett Indians are looking to turn around their baseball program after a porous 3-win season a year ago and rookie manager Jonathan Way was hired to help get the program back on the track.
Way grew up in Webster, went to Bartlett High School, and played for the Indians under managers Tony Paranto and Chip Plante, whom he credits with giving him the majority of his knowledge of the game before graduating in 2004.
After high school, Way attended and graduated from Westfield State and started working for the Worcester Tornados soon thereafter as their clubhouse manager under former Boston Red Sox catcher Richie Gedman, who managed the squad up until last season.
He also learned more about the game from being around the likes of former major leaguers Bobby Ojeda and Brian Daubach, who were also involved with the Tornadoes.
After six years with the Tornadoes he moved to the education field and began teaching at Bartlett. Last year he was able to get some experience as Southbridge High School’s junior varsity manager.
This year, as he put it, he “got really lucky” and landed the managing job with the Indians, a position he is very excited about.
Way is looking at things realistically as he takes over a team that underachieved a year ago. “I look around and see that this team is pretty talented. I don’t expect to win a state championship, although that would be nice, but I am going to be realistic about it. As far as I am concerned I am going to teach them how to play baseball the right way.”
The rookie manager is in no rush to name starters, “It’s pretty early. We have a lot of talented kids. Over the next week we will be narrowing down and seeing who can play what position and fine tune things and that is when I will know who is going to play where.”
The team has a lot of talent, including some superior athletes like Nick Kobel, Connor McCarthy, and Billy Phillips, so we can fully expect them to have a much better season this year than last.
The Indians will be scrimmaging Sutton High School next Thursday afternoon at Bartlett and open their season against Grafton on Friday, April 6.
Jamie Hetherman: We had a chance to say hello to Jamie Hetherman, who is the manager of the Oxford Pirates girls’ softball team, as they prepare for their upcoming season. The Bartlett graduate took time away from pitching batting practice to tell us that he is excited about the upcoming season.
One of his returning players is senior Lauren Puishys, the Pirates three-sport star who is featured in this week’s Patriot. She will be playing first base for the Pirates.
Final Hoops Rankings: It was no surprise the Shepherd Hill Rams girls’ basketball team ranked 5th in the Central Mass writers poll. The Jim Hackenson-coached and Meghan Fornaro-led team had a fantastic season before losing to Holy Name in the district playoffs.
Fornaro will be attending the Coast Guard Academy and playing basketball there in the fall, and probably burying long-range jumpers for CGA.
Bartlett West: With Rocco DiStefano committing to join high school teammate Arthur Hackenson next year at Springfield College to play football, the Division 3 College is starting to look like an extension of Bartlett.
The pair may also be joined by Indian three-sport star Nick Kobel, who has apparently narrowed his choice down to two schools with Springfield being one of them (Framingham State is also in the mix). If Kobel does attend Springfield the school may consider changing their team colors to green and white!
Incidentally, Springfield’s football team is playing at Worcester Tech in November and if you are wondering, their soccer team, which will most likely be Kobel’s college sport, also plays WPI.
Opening Day Baseball: The Shepherd Hill Rams will open at Marlborough on April 4, The Oxford Pirates also open their season on April 4 at home against Quaboag, and Bartlett will also be at home against Grafton on Friday April 6.
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- Wednesday, 28 March 2012
- Posted in Categories: : View from the Sidelines