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High School Baseball: Hamburg shows positive signs early on

Tyler Shaw is one of two players left that played for Hamburg’s 2011 sectional title-winning team. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
In the preseason, Hamburg worked all the typical training drills to ready for the season, but it’s the work that was done on the mental aspect of the game that head coach Steve Chaffee believes may pay the most dividends down the road for this group.

The difference between teams that win sectional titles, like the ones Chaffee had in 2009 and two years later, aren’t always based solely on talent. It’s also about the ability to be resilient that gets many teams over the top.

Chaffee has pushed that aspect of the game with this group as it enters the 2013 season coming off a 7-12 year.

“The big thing with last year’s team is that when we had adversity, mentally we couldn’t fight through it,” said Chaffee, whose team won one of three games in the Mingo Bay Tournament over the spring break. “That’s why mental toughness is so important. I’ve been telling them to play in the moment. Hopefully, if they can think that way, we’ll have a good year.”

Two players on that 2011 championship team that can help impart their experiences in their final seasons with Hamburg are seniors Brian Castonguay and Tyler Shaw.

Castonguay, who will slide over to first base as a fourth-year varsity player, hit over .400 as a freshman and sophomore and looks to bounce back after a tough 2012 at the plate. Shaw, who was such a big part of the 2011 team’s energy, will help lead as a front-line pitcher, centerfielder and someone who will hit in one the top spots in the batting order.

Also part of a smaller senior class are Josh Palisano, a pitcher and outfielder who will hit in the top half of the order; third baseman Chris Tuttle, who brings another solid bat to the lineup; and Cody Gilhooly, a relief pitcher and first baseman.

Returning to play even bigger roles on the varsity will be junior Justin LaRosa and sophomore Cam Ringo, both of whom will be mainstays in the middle infield. The hard-throwing Ringo will also be one of the team’s top pitchers and may contribute heavily offensively after going for 5 for 7 in the team’s first three games at the Mingo Bay Tournament.

David Edie is a key newcomer to the lineup who will step into the starting catcher role. Chaffee likes his work and effort behind the plate and sees him hitting sixth or seventh in the order.

“It’s a nice mix — they’re may only be five seniors but it’s a very mature, trustworthy and hardworking group,” said Chaffee, who will carry 18 players and also welcomes back as varsity assistant, Derek Hill, who spent the past three years heading the JV. “And the young kids are buying into what we’re selling.”

Chaffee was hoping to return from Myrtle Beach with a lot of his questions answered. Although his players were working hard in the preseason, he could tell only so much after most workouts were conducted indoors in the gym due to inclement weather.

“When we get outdoors, we’ll see what we’ve got,” said Chaffee, who has since noted on his team’s Maxpreps webpage that he was happy with their at-bats in the Mingo Bay Tournament and looking forward to the league schedule.

After hosting non-league games against Gowanda and Fredonia this week that league schedule opens with a game at perennial-power Iroquois on Friday, April 12.

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2013-04-14 | 09:54:04
A man of character and an excellent leader of young men. Good luck to the Bulldogs this year.
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