Coach: Shaun Ratchford (22nd season)
2005 record: 16-6 (1st round FCIAC and Class LL tournament)
Key losses: P/OF Jimmy Tatarzycki (3-2, 1.66 ERA), P/C Brad Pippa (.382, 4-3, 1.57 ERA, 4 saves), SS Bob DiNardo (.413, 20 RBI), CF Paul DeCarvalho.
Key returnees/newcomers: P/IF Billy Najam (7-1, 0.92 ERA), IF Justin Machado (.316), 1B Tony Rivera (.309, 10 RBI), C/3B James Taylor (.288, 16 RBI), P/1B C.J. Arconti, P/IF Andrew Coords, OF Eric O'Connor, OF Nick Saward, P/OF Mark Grant, OF Ryan Ball, IF Brad Dorris, P Craig Tarsi, IF/P Tyler O'Rourke, P/OF Mike Carriero, C Russell Sirko.
Keys to the season: The Hatters will look to rebuild their traditionally strong pitching staff and defensive corps, which led them to a 16-6 record last spring and to a 40-8 mark over the past two seasons. The only returning pitcher with significant innings - the senior Najam - will anchor the staff, with help from the junior right-handers Tarsi and Coords, and junior lefties Grant and Arconti. O'Rourke and Carriero will round out the staff. Machado, last year's second baseman, moves over to short, and Dorris will play second. Rivera returns at first base and the hard-hitting Taylor will assume the full-time catching duties. Saward in center will lead the outfield, with Grant, Ball and Carriero in left, and Saba in right, with help from Eric O'Connor. If the group of underclass pitchers can provide support for Najam, the Hatters could be on their way to another successful season. Ridgefield
Coach: Al Trimpert (5th season)
2005 record: 7-13
Key losses: C Tim Forcelli, P/OF Brett Duffy, P/OF Joe Gunshor, 3B/DH Roger Bel (concentrating on football), P Joey Swartout (business internship).
Key returnees/newcomers: P/1B Matt Harris (4-3, 4.77 ERA, .388 BA), 2B/3B Travis Wolf (.333), 2B/3B Kevin Leonard, INF/OF Sammy von Kuhn, P Adam Jones, C Bill O'Rourke, P/OF Dave Walters, P/1B Conor Loughlin, SS Corey Mitchell, P John Craig, P/OF Will Harris.
Keys to the season: Ridgefield went down to the final day of the regular season in 2005 needing a win to get into the state Class LL tournament. The Tigers didn't get it. There is reason to believe, however, that 2006 will be different, that with a capable pitching staff and a promising defense, Ridgefield won't have to wait until the final day. But the Tigers still have to score runs. "I feel we have a group of guys that like to be together and like to play baseball, so they won't mind working," said Trimpert. "I feel that will help us, and with the number of pitchers we have, we should be all right. The infield looks solid also. We just have to hit." SWC
Coach: Bill Hunt (39th season)
2005 record: 18-7 (SWC champs, Class L semifinals)
Key losses: P/1B Bryan Calzone, P/1B Mike Oskandy, C Matt Lehane, SS Brandon Meadows, OF Jay Wogksch, OF Matt Wogksch, 3B Vin Cosentino, OF Jim Forman, OF Joe Magri.
Key returnees/newcomers: P/INF Ben Bryan, C Adam Pratt, OF Manny Cambra, 3B Randy Lienhardt, SS Chris Carillo, P/1B Josh Vaghi, P/INF Matt Barnes, P Sean Trafford.
Keys to the season: Though the heart and soul of last season's championship team is gone, Bethel may not take as big a step backward as some people anticipate. In fact, the Wildcats may not take a step back at all. Replacing two durable and cerebral pitchers in Oskandy and Calzone obviously won't be easy, but Bryan stands to be one of the top arms in the SWC and Hunt has a stable of highly promising young pitchers in Vaghi, Barnes and Trafford. Pratt will move from second base to catcher in order to give the new generation of pitchers a veteran presence to work with. The juniors Lienhardt and Cambra came on late last season to help the Wildcats with their stretch run, with Lienhardt producing three hits in the state quarterfinal win over Bunnell. Once the new defensive alignment takes hold, Bethel should be right back in the thick of the conference playoff hunt. Brookfield
Coach: Rusty Goslin (1st season)
2005 record: 9-13 (SWC quarterfinals, Class M 1st round)
Key losses: 1B Dan Volz, C Mike Palo.
Key returnees/newcomers: P John McGinness, 2B/SS Wes Yusko, P/3B Billy Thompson, 2B/SS Brett Balzi, 2B/SS Matt Frederick, 1B/P Greg Patella, OF/P Matt Osgood, OF/P Luke Farrell.
Keys to the season: The Bobcats will field a solid defensive team going into the 2006 season, led by the trio of middle infielders Yusko, Frederick and Balzi. Yusko is also a lefty hitter who batted a team-leading .450 (27-for-60) as a sophomore in 2005, scored 20 runs and stole 16 bases in 17 attempts. A strong pitching staff headed by McGinness, Thompson and Osgood will need to keep the runs to a minimum in order for the Bobcat offense to win the big games. Said Goslin: "The key to a Bobcat winning season will be the play of a senior class that has yet to have a winning season." Immaculate
Coach: Tom Neville (14th season)
2005 record: 10-11 (Class S 2nd round)
Key losses: 1B Bob Plumb, P/C David Simone, UTL Pat McGuire.
Key returnees/newcomers: P/SS Danny Allen, P/C/SS Matt Petrini, P/OF Brandon McEwan, C/IF Ryan Brady, P/IF Doug Lajoie, 1B Steve Mulvey, P/IF/OF Nick DaSilva, P/IF Chris Cerminara, P/OF Dan DiBuono, 3B Chris Mannion, IF James Nevin, C.J. Rodrigues.
Keys to the season: Last season marked the end of an unprecedented run by the Mustangs, one in which they reached four straight state Class S championship games (2001-04), winning three. They had also been at least as far as the state semifinals for seven consecutive seasons before bowing out quietly in the second round. Last season was filled with growing pains with a young team, but now Neville feels Immaculate is ready to compete at a high level again and possibly make it back to the SWC playoffs. Allen, Cerminara and DiBuono figure to be a solid starting rotation, and the hard-throwing McEwan could be a major pitching factor, too. Lajoie is slated to be the closer. Petrini and Allen proved to be productive at the top of top of the batting order last season, but now others must step forward offensively to help back the pitching.
Coach: Michael Siksay (2nd season)
2005 record: 10-13 (SWC semifinals, Class M 1st round)
Key losses: All-state P/OF Ricky Muir (7-3, 1 save), OF Evan Tibbetts, OF Chris Stevens, C/UTL Brian Zisek, DH/1B Zandy Cucharale, C Scott Heller.
Key returnees/newcomers: Of Matt Lisi, IF Will Alvarez, P/OF Jake Raiff, P Ian Bohmne, P/C Greg Colby, C Aaron Kaufman.
Keys to the season: After losing 14 seniors to graduation, this season's Joel Barlow team will be young, but feisty. Not only must the Falcons replace 14 seniors, they had three of the best in the area last season in Muir, Tibbetts and Stevens. "We look to play solid fundamental baseball," said Siksay. "Behind two junior arms in Bohmne and Raiff, followed up with a solid core of sophomores, we look to pick up where we left off." Barlow's SWC playoff win over Notre Dame of Fairfield last season was its first since the conference was formed. New Fairfield
Coach: Brian Cragin (1st season)
2005 record: 3-17
Key losses: 1B Will Pearce (.460, 15 doubles), SS Bobby James, P Chris Pierlioni.
Key returnees/newcomers: P/OF Tom Fabiani, C Charlie Szold, P/IF Dan Negron, P Adam Benzing.
Keys to the season: The Rebels had only two seniors on their pre-season roster, and will be looking to rebuild the once proud program under the direction of Cragin, the former New Fairfield basketball coach. The tri-captains Fabiani, Szold and Negron will lead the team offensively and defensively. The newcomer Benzing had a solid pre-season, allowing Cragin versatility and flexibility with his pitching staff. New Milford
Coach: John Wrenn (26th season)
2005 record: 7-13
Key Losses: P/OF Ryan Maddern (.318, 7 triples), P Ron Newkirk, C/OF Pat Hendricks, 1B C.J. Perrone, OF Steve Duda, OF Max Jabbonsky, C Gene Pitcher, OF Rollin Rogers.
Key returnees/newcomers: P Ryan Kaiser, SS Tony Patane, 3B Evan Noonan, C Mike Helmus, 1B Bryan Hamilton, C/DH Andy Sturm, CF Steve Moglia, P Chris Allen, C Sam Browning, OF Steve Chen, 3B Eric Karpich, P/OF Andrew Kisling, C Darren Lavallee, OF Chris Leary, 2B Frankie O'Brien, 2B/P Andrew Perrone, C Chris Russo, P/1B Joshua Stumpek, P/3B J.R. Unikas, P Taylor Young.
Keys to the season: After putting together back-to-back 16-7 seasons in 2003 and 2004 and winning the SWC title in 2004, the Green Wave slipped below .500 for a rare time last spring. The goal at New Milford this season is to return to the norm. Wrenn's team averaged 15 wins a season over three years prior to 2005. "As is the case with New Milford baseball every year, pitching, defense and an opportunistic offense will carry us," the veteran coach said. "We have some experienced players mixed in with some new players. We hope to compete for an SWC playoff berth." Newtown
Coach: Carl Strait (4th season)
2005 record: 12-10 (SWC quarterfinals, Class LL 1st round)
Key losses: 1B Nick Magoulas, 2B Matt Nicholl, OF Graham Philbrick, INF Dave Marcucilli.
Key returnees/newcomers: P Steve Marks (8-5, 2 saves, 1.51 ERA), C Pete Oggeri (.419 BA, .544 OB), SS Mike Tibbetts, P Alex Dolan, OF Brian Shimko, 2B Steve Vichiola, 3B Ryan McGrath (.357), OF Joe Devellis, OF Seth Hull, 1B Brian Cullinan, P/OF Jesse Furphy, IF/P Mike Chapin, P Dan Murdoch, C Ryan Clark, IF Tony Gallucci, 2B Alex Magoulas, SS Nick Urso.
Keys to the season: The Nighthawks are coming off their best season in 11 years and return 12 players with varsity experience, including a variety of all-area and all-conference players. They are strong offensively, deep in pitching and have the important element of speed in Devellis. The left-side defensive tandem of McGrath and Tibbetts could be the SWC's best. Expectations are running high. "Having the season we did a year ago and qualifying for the state tournament for the first time in seven years was quite an accomplishment," said Strait. "Now we just want to compete and improve every day and get back to the post-season." Pomperaug
Coach: Mike Eisenbach
2005 record: 9-11 (1st round Class L tournament)
Key losses: OF Joe Melillo (.569, 21 RBI), 2B Joe Albertario, P/3B Mike Caleca, P/OF Paul Mastrantuone, IF Ryan Williams, 1B/DH Chris Trowbridge.
Key returnees/newcomers: SS/2B Kyle Dean, 1B Bryan Marcinek, P/3B Mike Olender, P/OF Charles Benson, P/OF John Sharkey, P/UTL Chris Bonetti, C Brian LeMay, OF Steve Halas, P/SS Alex Santipetro, P/OF Rob Leduc.
Keys to the season: The Panthers inched closer to rejoining the elite in the SWC last season and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in three years. Now, Eisenbach returns eight solid veterans to the lineup, including the three-man starting rotation of Olender, Sharkey and Benson. Pomperaug will also benefit from the transfer of Santipetro, who previously attended prep school. Dean, Marcinek, Benson, Sharkey, LeMay and Santipetro all hit well during the pre-season. "We're excited about the possibilities," said Eisenbach. "We thought we might be in the middle of things last season but we were still a year away. Hopefully, things will be a little different for us this season." Constitution State
Coach: Dave Carvalho (5th season)
2005 record: 2-18
Key losses: P Ryan Hill, OF Louis Simao, OF Mike Forrest.
Key returnees/newcomers: C/P Edwin Alvarez, P/OF Barry Hart, 2B Jeff Neville, P/IF Scott Robbins, OF Edd Simao, OF Bien Hernandez, OF Stephan Rehoric, P/1B Jim Pacific, 1B Tyler Kennen, P/3B Bryce Burnhard, P/IF Matt Bishop, OF Felix Rodrigues, C Alex Gibb, IF Jeremy Rivera, P/IF Tom Mora, P/OF Pete Pelletier, P/2B David Haitsch.
Keys to the season: The Wolverines will look to rebound from a less-than-stellar 2005 season by getting back to the basics - building a pitching staff and attempting to shore up its defense. With Hill's departure and the junior Robbins sidelined with a wrist injury until mid-April, pitching be handled by the junior Alvarez (50 strikeouts, 10 walks in 30 IP in 2005), the senior Hart, the junior left-hander Pacific and two newcomers: Mora and Pelletier. The infield will feature Burnhard and Bishop battling for playing time at third; Mora and Rivera at short; Neville and Haitsch handling second, and Pacific and Kennen splitting time at first. The outfield will sport Simao, Hart and Pelletier, with Hernandez, Rehoric and Rodrigues taking turns as well. If the newcomers on the mound and on defense perform well, there could be a long-awaited return to the post-season for Abbott Tech in the new Constitution State Conference. New York Section I
Coach: Ed Mulvihill (1st season, interim)
2005 record: 8-10
Key losses: 3B Joe Langone
Key returnees/newcomers: SS Will Mann, CF Dan Nieves, P Chris Marsek, P Matt LaFace, 1B Gary Sorrentino, P/3B Mike Trainor, C Kevin Mulvihill, RF Brendan Mulvihill, P/LF Chris Santos, P/LF Scott Relyea, P Kurt Kaschura, P Paul Havel, OF Frank Sanchez, OF Steve Vogler, 2B Dave Dempsey, 3B Jed Kinkler.
Keys of the season: Interim coach Ed Mulvihill, who will be filling in for 26-year veteran Ron Dolan (knee surgery), returns the Bears' entire pitching staff, as well as seven other starters. The pitching staff will be led by Marsek (5-2, All-League), Trainor, LaFace and Santos. On offense, Nieves (.373, 10 stolen bases, All-League) will leadoff and anchor the defense in center field. Brendan Mulvihill will start the season in right field, with Santos, Relyea and Vogler competing for time in left. Mann (.448, 16 RBIs, honorable mention All-Section) moves to shortstop, with Dempsey grabbing second base. The cleanup hitter Sorrentino (.429, 23 RBI's, All-Section) will play first base, with Kinkler, Trainor and Marsek working in at third. Solid backstop Kevin Mulvihill (19 caught-stealing throws) will return to do the catching. If the defense and hitting develop, the Bears should top last season's sub .500 record. Berkshire League
Coach: Scott Werkhoven (2nd season)
2005 record: 14-8 (2nd round Class S tournament)
Key losses: Travis Horrigan (All-State, All-League), Josh McSherry (All-League), Mike Horrigan, Jon Taylor, Jeff Fleet, Tom Belanger, Eamonn DiGaetano.
Key returnees/newcomers: C Mike Hill, OF Kevin Horrigan, P/SS Miles Scribner, 1B Matt Conway, P/OF Jeff Reisman, P/SS Chris Ayer, P Jamie Curren, 2B Daren Hrelic, OF Evan Neukom, OF Joe Reger, OF Dave Easter, OF Steven Espitee, OF Joe Moravsky, OF Nate Wheeler, OF/INF Ted Alex, OF Eddie Collins, P/IF Troy Horrigan, IF Nick Parker, IF Karl Quist.
Keys to the season: Shepaug will try to return to its familiar spot among the Berkshire League elite in 2006 as Werkhoven looks for an improvement in his pitching staff and an increase in run production. "Several players will be competing for playing time throughout the season," the second-year coach said. "That should make depth and defense a strength. The Berkshire League should have several teams competing for the top of the league (Wamogo, Northwestern, Thomaston, Nonnewaug and Lewis Mills). We hope to be competitive with the top half of the league." HVAL
Coach: Dan Levy (2nd season)
2005 record: 9-3 (HVAL co-regular season champs; HVAL tournament runners-up; New England Tournament qualifier).
Key losses: P/CF Rich Isaacson, C Matt Cocola.
Key returnees/newcomers: P/2B Roger Polanzo, P/C/SS Jose Espinosa, CF David Williams, P/3B Jordie Schiener, 1B Alex Marnier.
Keys to the season: Wooster will field one of its youngest and most talented teams in years, and Levy is optimistic about the upcoming season. Despite the loss of two key seniors from last year's team, the Generals return a strong core of players and they're excited about their new additions. Levy believes that his club will be the team to beat in the Hudson Valley Athletic League this spring.