After losing just four seniors from a Suffolk County Championship-winning squad, the Southampton baseball team still has plenty of firepower and experience returning this spring, and is intent on defending its title.
The Mariners went 19-3 last season, beating Mattituck to win the county ‘B’ crown—the program’s third county title since 2009—before losing to Wheatley in the Long Island Championship game. Ace pitcher Wyatt Schmidt, an All-County selection and MVP of League VII, has graduated, along with starting catcher Alex Soyars, starting second baseman Henry Egan and utility player Chris Cornacchio.
But Southampton has more than enough experience and depth on its roster this season, and replacing the production of those players shouldn’t be a problem.
Four players are returning to the varsity who had considerable experience and all started on the mound at some point last season. Returning senior Eddie McLaughlin logged the most time on the hill of those four returnees, while his classmates Thomas Beckman and David Kirshy have plenty of varsity pitching experience as well, along with junior Garrett Pike.
Southampton will be strong behind home plate as well, as senior Kevin Edgar will take over catching duties from Soyars. Edgar has logged plenty of innings behind home plate on varsity, and should give the Mariners consistency at that position.
Southampton should be solid defensively at the infield positions, with senior Jake Marano returning to his starting spot at first base, while Pike will reprise his role as the starting shortstop when he’s not pitching, and McLaughlin will do the same at third base. Second base is a bit of a question mark due to Egan’s departure, although Beckman, perhaps the team’s most versatile player, could see time there as well. Beckman saw time at shortstop last season when Pike pitched and also played right field when Schmidt took the mound.
The outfield will likely be anchored by Kirshy, a senior, and Kevin Dexter, a junior, along with senior John Wasserman.
In the hitting department, Southampton will be looking for a new leadoff hitter to fill Schmidt’s shoes, but the team should have good hitting throughout the lineup. Edgar was effective batting second last year, while the rest of the returning varsity players all proved last season that they were potent at the plate.
Gary Pike, who has been the varsity assistant for the team for the past six years, takes over head coaching duties this season as former head coach Ike Birdsall decided to step down. Pike will coach the team with help from Scott Johnson, as well as JV coach Zach Epley.
Pike is confident in the team’s ability to have another successful year, based on the large number of experienced returning players. He said his team should be potent on offense, too.
“They’re all good hitters,” he said. “Last year, we probably had seven or eight guys who batted anywhere from .340 to .400. Everybody had good bats, and they spread it out. In other years, we didn’t have that.”
Pike said he expects Mattituck to be a strong team again this year, and noted that Center Moriches brings back two quality starting pitchers. And while Pike acknowledged that losing a player like Schmidt is tough, he pointed out that plenty of players on this year’s team have the potential to do what Schmidt did as a senior.
“We have six kids that did what Wyatt did as a junior,” Pike said. “So, hopefully, one of those guys can have a monster year like Wyatt did last year.”
Southampton is scheduled to kick off the season with a pair of scrimmages, one at home against Pierson on Monday, March 17, and another at home against Southold on Tuesday, March 18. The Mariners will visit Pierson at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor for a non-league game on Thursday, March 20, at 4 p.m., and will start the League VIII season at Port Jefferson/Knox on Tuesday, March 25, at 4:30 p.m.