Getting off to a positive start and remaining injury free are two things Dave Hogan wants the most out of his Fenwick baseball team this season.
Beset by injuries early last season, the Friars dipped below .500 but regained steam near the end of the regular season schedule by winning 8-of-9 games to finish 10-9 in the Catholic League. Things have changed a bit this year with St. Joseph joining the league. Fenwick, Bishop McNamara, De La Salle, Gordon Tech, St. Ignatius and St. Joseph all make up the White Division. Each team will play one another twice. The expansion forced all the teams to try to begin the season a little earlier, therefore the Friars opened play with a 10-0 romping of Walter Payton in six innings last week, and had games scheduled for everyday this week.
“We had our share of problems last season at the start, but we overcame them and matured and did quite well,” said Hogan, who now enters his 31st season as Fenwick’s skipper. “We want to stay strong and consistent throughout the season this time around, and I think we can do that with large group of pitchers we have on this team.”
Three of Fenwick’s 11 or so hurlers have already proved dominant this season. Senior Jack McGann tossed three innings of hitless ball with five strikeouts in the win over Walter Payton, while Mike Buzzell pitched two frames and Jon Buchta one of no-hit ball. Others expected to see significant mound time throughout the season include Tyler Sewall, Sam Ainsworth, Joe Patzelt, Jack Forde and Billy Meyer.
Drew Schroeder, who started as a sophomore last season in place of the injured Mike Trucco, returns at catcher. Trucco will DH, according to Hogan. Fenwick’s infield is anchored by short stop Ryan Fitzgerald, who played sparingly on varsity last season. The multifaceted athlete – he also plays hockey – has already verbally committed to Creighton University.
Others expected to make an impact this season include Nick Johnson (right field), John Rooney (center), Chris Celio (infield), Cody Upp (infield) and Mark Loni (infield, outfield).
Like their cross-town rival OPRF, the Friars will fly down to Florida for a tournament over spring break. The team will play in the Disney Baseball Tournament in Orlando from March 30 to April 3. Fenwick will play teams from New Jersey and Georgia, among others.
“It will be a good experience for the guys,” said Hogan. “It’s a great package, and lots of families are going, so it should be a lot of fun.”