Graber Rises as Head Coach

After a tough 3-4 loss in the New England Championship last spring, Andover Baseball looks to duplicate its success under new leadership this season. After 23 years of coaching for Andover, Coach Andy Cline has stepped down and will assist new head coach, Kevin Graber. Although this is his first year as a head high school baseball coach, Graber has extensive coaching experience. He has managed professional teams including the Southern Minnesota Stars of the Prairie League, the Minneapolis Loons of the North Central League and the Adirondack Lumberjacks of the Northeast League. In addition to professional teams, Graber also had a six-year stint managing collegiate baseball at Amherst. Graber assisted Cline last season for Andover. “It’s been interesting because this is my first year as a high school coach. Being able to work with Coach Cline last year was huge. A lot of stuff translates to the high school game, but there is still some stuff that I have to get used to,” said Graber. Senior leaders for Andover will play a key role in leading the team to another post-season appearance. Captain Bennett Carroccio ’10 will anchor the team from the outfield, while pitchers Jack Doyle ’10 and reliever Tom Hamel ’10 will handle business on the mound. Doyle and Hamel will welcome several newcomers to the pitching staff this spring. Sam August ’10 and Fred Shepard ’10 will join the rotation, and returner Thomas Palleschi ’12 will look to build on a solid Junior campaign. “This year the pitching depth is great. Last year we didn’t really know what we had, but we worked to develop younger pitching. And now we get guys Hamel, Jeremy Hutton ’11, Doyle and Palleschi, which hopefully will benefit us this year,” said Graber. Post-graduate Shepard will look to step in as the ace on staff. The hard-throwing lefty looks to overpower hitters with his active fastball, sharp curveball and slider. After losing many key players in the middle of the lineup, both the returners and new players are going to have to step up and make plays in order to get the job done. Big games for Andover this year include double headers against Worchester Academy, Deerfield and Exeter. All four teams advanced to post-season play last year. Coach Graber said that he is optimistic about the squad and feels that they have really started to get the hang of his coaching style. “I wanted to come to Andover because I didn’t have to water it down. We have some really smart guys on the team, and they have absorbed a lot of stuff in a small period of time,” said Graber. The team hopes to have its first action Saturday, hosting Bridgton Academy at 2 p.m.