Although inclement weather has wreaked havoc on the start of Harrison’s baseball season, it has done little to dampen the expectations for this year’s club. Coming off a stunning run to the Class A semifinals in 2017, the Huskies are hoping for a repeat performance once the this year’s campaign officially kicks off.
After a spring snowstorm canceled Harrison’s home-opener on April 2, Harrison is still looking to play its first game of the season. Even so, the Huskies have gotten plenty of work in thus far, including a weeklong trip to Fort Pierce, Florida that saw the team get some valuable instructional time, according to head coach Marco DiRuocco.
“The weather has made things tough, it’s been kind of a rollercoaster,” he said. “But we were fortunate in going to Florida, we were able to scrimmage and get some outdoor practices in, working on game-like situations on actual fields.”
Harrison’s early-season practices have been crisp, due in large part to the number of returning players currently on the roster. With 10 seniors, most of whom have played substantial varsity innings, DiRuocco said that Harrison has benefitted from a tremendous amount of upperclassman leadership.
“We expect those veterans to help the younger guys understand what’s expected of them on the varsity level because, a lot of times, it means more coming from a teammate.” the coach said. “But they help the younger guys understand what we are trying to do, and it helps build the guys who came before them.”
Senior pitcher Scotty Lobel is one player whom DiRuocco expects to make a major impact this year, although both Lobel, who is dealing with a sore arm, and fellow senior hurler Luke McCarthy, who is recovering from a bout with mononucleosis, may have to be gradually worked into Harrison’s pitching rotation. In their absence, DiRuocco said that the rest of the Huskies’ deep cache of arms will need to step up and establish themselves.
“It’s really going to be pitching by committee,” he said. “We have plenty of pitchers, we’re deep, but we’re going to need to see who steps up from that group.”
Offensively, Harrison returns first baseman and designated hitter Mike Arlotta, who hit .355 and clubbed a team-high five home runs in 2017. Arlotta may supply the power in the heart of Harrison’s lineup, but DiRuocco believes that his team will win games through pitching, defense and timely hitting, much like they did last season.
“[Mike] is going to have to be productive for us in the middle of the order, but for us, it’s always been about situational hitting,” he said. “I don’t see this lineup putting up double-digit runs a lot, but these guys have seen how successful we can be when we have everybody pitching in.”
Harrison is scheduled to open the season against Hendrick Hudson on April 5, and will travel to Nyack to take on the Indians on April 7, after press time.