Boys of summer step up to the plate for another season

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With the winter sports season fading into the rearview mirror, the baseball season got underway Monday night at Simpson Field where T.C. Williams hosted city rival Bishop Ireton in both teams first scrimmage of the year.

The seven-inning warm-up yielded a 10-0 win for the Titans and, for eager baseball fans, the first glimpse at the season to come. With regular seasons for three of the four Alexandria high schools beginning this week, the Times offers a run around the bases of what could follow on the diamond this spring.

T.C. Williams Titans

It was about five minutes before the first team meeting of the spring when T.C. Williams head coach Andrew Simpson found out this season would be very different than he had planned for the Patriot District contenders.

That was when Simpson learned that his second baseman, Adam Forrer, a first team all-region selection last year and Richmond recruit, would miss his senior season due to an off-season ACL injury.

Like that, his No. 3 hitter a .532 batter a year ago was gone.

I keep looking at the offense and thinking what could be if I had Adam, but I think we have guys that are going to make up for it, Simpson said. Its going to take a couple guys to make up for his numbers but we have the pieces.

Even without Forrer, the Titans return seven starters from last year, when they went 12-11. Starting only one senior, T.C. made the second round of the regional tournament after upsetting top-seeded Yorktown 6-1.

Among the keys this season will be senior Matt Kilby, also first team all-region a year ago with a program record 37 RBI, senior Rob Mannel and junior starting pitcher Steve Weidman, who went 6-1 last year as a sophomore.

Leadership wont be a problem we have a great group of kids, Simpson said. We have a very good, intelligent group of seniors.

The Titans officially open the season Wednesday at home against Wakefield.

Bishop Ireton Cardinals

As T.C. Williams head coach Anderw Simpson noted after Mondays scrimmage with Bishop Ireton, he and Cardinals head coach Mike Gallagher had swapped places from just a year ago.

For Gallaghers squad, the 2010 slate will be, if anything, a youthful one. With just four players returning and only one starter from last seasons 15-12 team that made the conference finals, the improvements this year will be evident from one day to the next.

Were going to go through some hiccups and some speed bumps, but theres certainly some good, young ability that we have, Gallagher said.

Without the likes of third baseman John Robertson, a first team All-Met selection by the Washington Post, or Dan Nicoll, a second team all-state pitcher, the Cardinals will rely on senior leadoff hitter Tommy Kiesner in the batting order, in the field and on the mound, Gallagher said.

Although there are few weak links in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, the Cardinals are once again hopeful to peak when it counts and make their third straight conference championship game which, thankfully, isnt played anytime this month.

High school baseball is about May, its about a seed and finding a way to win a couple games, Gallagher said. We, if anybody the last couple years, have proven that.

But where we finish? Its about how good we are in May, not in March.

The Cardinals begin in earnest next Thursday at St. Stephens / St. Agnes.

St. Stephens / St. Agnes Saints

St. Stephens / St. Agnes, like Bishop Ireton across town, is gearing up for a season without one of their recent stars. The departure of pitching ace Whit Mayberry part of the All-Met second team last season for the University of Virginia means coach Jim Supples lineup will have a sizable hole compared to last years 14-11 Independent Athletic Conference co-championship squad.

The Saints, crowned co-champs after winning the IAC tournament last May, begin their 2010 campaign Tuesday against Cardinal Gibbon.

Episcopal Maroon

After a rough 2009 season that saw the Maroon finish 6-12, the start of the new season for coach Rick Stubbss team has to be a welcome proposition. Having started last year a buoyant 2-0, a defeat to Bishop Ireton started a streak of eight straight losses that sent Episcopal to the back of the pack of the IAC.

On spring break this week, the Maroon begin their season March 24 against Randolph Macon. The first of back-to-back meetings with backyard rivals St. Stephens comes April 13.

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