Coming off of two consecutive championship seasons, the Andover baseball team looks to match their past successes while dealing with the challenge of filling twelve vacated roster spots. The team finished the season with a bang last year, securing the New England Prep School Championship for the second year in a row in a come-from-behind victory against Worcester Academy, 5-4. The Big Blue posted an impressive 10-2 record in regular season league play and were able to bring down the curtain on their season with a 13-9 victory over Exeter. Andover looks to match the successes of the recent past this year, and they will look to do it with a team dominated by new talent. Only five members of the 2008 championship team will be returning for the 2009 season: Co-Captains Geoff Lynch ’09 and Anthony Morlani ’09, Glenn Stowell ’09, Mike Siraco ’09 and Bennett Carroccio ’10. “We lost a lot to graduation,” said Coach Andy Cline. “We have definite strengths, but we will also have holes to fill.” Lynch will hold the starting catching job for the second year in a row, and Morlani, while also a catcher, will be starting in the outfield this season for Andover. Stowell proved to be a successful closer and relief pitcher for the Big Blue last year, leading the team in various appearances throughout the seasons. This year he will become a starting pitcher, a new role for him. Final cuts have yet to be made official at press time, but the newcomers will undoubtedly have the opportunity to be an instrumental part of the team. “One of our goals this season is to come together as a team,” said Cline. This is especially true with the abundance of new players, both post-graduates and underclassmen. In addition to coming together as a team, Cline has some other goals in mind for his team this year. “Of course, having fun is always the goal. But we would also like to play well; if we play the game well and have fun doing it, the scoreboard and everything else will take care of itself,” commented Coach Cline. Making the tournament is always a goal as well, but Coach Cline was certain to emphasize a concentration on “process, not outcome.” In the pursuit of achieving these goals, the team will have to face some formidable competition along the way. Exeter is a traditional rival for Andover, and PEA’s team seems to be shaping up to be a strong one again. In particular, Exeter is strong on the mound, with a new left handed pitcher joining a returning one. Before playing Exeter at the season finale on May 23, Andover will face other league powerhouses such as Cushing, Deerfield and Worcester. “We will have a very solid hitting lineup this season with a lot of speed,” said Coach Cline. “We also have some really good athletes, many of them multi-sport athletes across the board, which we like.” The team hopes that these strengths, along with strong leadership, will allow them to experience success this spring. “I am grateful for the leadership of our Captains and Seniors and the dedication of our coaches at all levels. The dedication of these individuals helps us be successful,” said Coach Cline. On Wednesday, Andover scrimmaged against Haverhill High School in a game that didn’t count towards the season schedule. The team opens up its season this Saturday at home against Bridgton Academy, and then begins league play next Wednesday at Tabor.