(March 22, 2019) The Stephen Decatur baseball team was led by its nine seniors last year, most of whom were major contributors.

Now it’s time for the athletes who played behind those seniors, as well as some newcomers, to step in, take over and shine.

“We’re a little bit different than last year. We’re going to have to put the ball in play a little more,” Coach Rich Ferro said. “We’re going to have to do smaller stuff in terms of offense, bunts, run and hit, but obviously what we want to do is pitch and play defense. That’s the main thing.”

There are 19 players on Ferro’s roster. Twelve competed last year when the team finished 18-4. The season ended in the 3A East Region Section II finals.

“Even though they’re experienced in age, they’re not experienced with games,” Ferro said. “A lot of the guys were playing behind seniors last year and we don’t have a whole lot of pop in the lineup, [but have] more contact hitters. We run pretty well.”

Ferro, now in his 12th season as head coach, said the Seahawks have shown maturity, are good listeners and get along really well.

“[So far they’re] doing a good job. It’s just getting used to the routine again, playing together, dealing with cold weather, playing indoors versus outdoors, [and] seeing live pitching for the first time,” Ferro said.

He will look to the seniors to lead the squad.

“I feel like I can lead the group pretty well,” said senior pitcher Hayden Snelsire. “Last year even though I was a junior, I felt as though I was a leader even though we had a lot of seniors that led.”

Snelsire, who earned Bayside South Conference First Team accolades for his performance last season, will play second base when he’s not pitching.

A three-year member of the team, Snelsire hopes to lead the group with his experience.

“We’re doing really well right now. We have a lot of pitching and good defense,” he said. “One of our goals we set as a team is to make the regional championship. We’re going to have to just come together as a team and find our identity.”

Senior pitcher/first baseman Alex Gaddis also plans to lead with his experience, “helping the younger kids, the underclassmen we have, and some of the juniors understand how varsity is different from JV and help everyone understand their roles.”

“Everybody’s going to have to know their role,” he continued. “Even the people that don’t start, they’re going to have to be ready to play. If we do that, we can win.”

Gaddis is excited and looking forward to the season.

“I think we’re coming together as a team,” he said. “I think we’re going to surprise some people this year.”

Also returning to the field are seniors Ridge Watson (middle infield/pitcher), Brett Berquist (outfield), Jack Rosenberg (pitcher), Gavin Bunting (utility) and Dawson Delaney (third base), and junior Noah Ager (utility).

Freshmen Ashten Snelsire and Jack Quisgard will vie for the starting catcher position.

“Whoever proves to be better defensively is going to get the nod,” Ferro said.

The goals this year, Ferro said, are to “get more experience, have good at-bats and just compete.”

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