Last year, the Marblehead High baseball team got off to a rough start but rallied to win 14 of 16 games to finish with a 14-8 record. In the Division 2 state tournament, the team fell to the third seed in a Round of 16 game, 5-1. Before that, the 14th-seeded Magicians had defeated Canton, the 19th seed, in the Round of 32, 6-2.
“The (players) did a great job, especially after losing five out of their first six games,” said coach Mike Giardi.
Turning the page, Giardi welcomed 53 hopefuls to practice on March 20, with 18 of them freshmen. The rather large turnout also included eight seniors, 13 juniors and 14 sophomores.
This year’s goals should be quite familiar to the program’s veterans.
“We want to go at least .500 and make the tournament,” Giardi said. “But ultimately, we want to win the (Northeastern) conference before going as far as we can in the postseason.”
Giardi continued, “We lost six starters from last year to graduation, including three all-stars, so we have some big holes to fill, especially up the middle at catcher, middle infield and centerfield. We really need some young guys to step up.”
But so far, Giardi is happy with the enthusiasm.
“The energy by everyone has been great,” he said. “We already scrimmaged Salem, and everybody on the roster got at least one at-bat. I saw some really good things out there. We didn’t really keep score because I just wanted to see pitchers pitch and hitters hit.”
Senior Shane Keough, who was an all-star outfielder last year, joins classmates Drew Whitman (starting pitcher), Ian Maude (starting pitcher and a 2022 all-star) and veteran hurler Cody Selvais as the 2023 captains.
The starting lineup was far from set as of press time, but Giardi had one more scrimmage left on the preseason schedule to hopefully clear up who will play where before the home opener against Danvers April 5, starting at 4 p.m.
“Danvers should be one of the top teams in the NEC this year, so it should be a good test for us right away,” the veteran Marblehead coach said.