Four Returners Key Boys Baseball this Spring; Younger Players Will Play Crucial Role in Success

After a 9-7 record and a second place finish in league play last year, the Andover Baseball team is back with elevated goals for the upcoming 2006 season. Twelve seniors have graduated from the team that was handed an early exit in tournament play against Deerfield last year, but this young group of talented players looks to continue the strong tradition and competitiveness that has come to define PA baseball. Although only four players return from last year’s varsity team, this year’s squad showcases an experienced core, featuring Co-Captain pitcher Matt Boylan ’06, Co-Captain catcher and 2005 All-Star Tom Dignard ’06, and postgraduate pitcher Tommy Arrigg ’06. Co-Captain Boylan brings last year’s team best ERA, 2.24, back to the mound, where he has been working on his command, as well as a split-change that he has improved to go along with his fastball-curveball strikeout combination. While the seniors provide stability and experience, the younger pitchers will be given a chance to step in and contribute right away in the rotation. The infield is also deep in talent, and Coach Cline stressed the players’ potential to grow and become more seasoned as the year progresses. The team has also found strength in another crucial area: outfield defense. Along with having a deep core of players at all positions, the outfield has an especially experienced bunch at the respective positions. Tight glove work and strong arms will also help to run down more flyballs and cut down on extra-base hits, tremendously helping the pitching staff. Andover has already seen a good amount of action so far, going 3-3-1 on the spring break trip to Florida, where they got their batting strokes and the feel of the game back among other things after a long winter. Coach Cline said, “We learned some things, and the whole team really benefited from the game experience on the trip, especially the younger players.” Looking forward to the league schedule, Andover looks to field a talented team that can compete well in the widely competitive Central New England Prep School Baseball League. While experienced leaders hold key positions, the younger players will be largely counted on to contribute to the team’s successes this year. “I think it’s a reflection of a healthy program overall if kids can come in from JV and contribute well at the varsity level,” Coach Cline added.