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Core group of vets back to compete for Decatur

(March 20, 2015) The Stephen Decatur baseball team had a successful 2014 season and the Seahawks hope to build from those achievements with a solid core group returning to the field this year.

Last year, the Decatur squad went 17-1 during the regular season, losing only to Parkside. The Seahawks edged out Colonel Richardson 5-2 to capture the program’s first outright Bayside Conference championship title.

In 2009, Decatur and Colonel Richardson earned spots in the Bayside championship game, but that match was rained out and the teams were declared co-champions.

The Berlin squad won 20 games in 2014 and lost only two. The team’s season came to an end with a 6-5 loss to La Plata in the 3A South Regional finals.

Coach Rich Ferro saw growth in terms of his players’ skills and maturity throughout the 2014 season and with 10 players back, he expects the Seahawks to compete at a high level this year.

“Primarily, it’s an older group. The team is filled with experience, guys that have been on varsity for a couple years, and a bunch of juniors that played JV for two years,” said Ferro, at the helm for eight seasons. “I’m hoping that the seniors, through their experience, will be mature, be able to communicate and be good leaders.”

Ferro will look to his eight seniors to lead the 17-player squad.

“The seniors will have a vital role, and [junior] Zach Adams [a member of the team for] three years,” Ferro said. “We’ll look to all those guys that have been around to communicate and to hold the other players accountable in a constructive way … They’ve done a good job, they’re attentive, they’re working hard, and we’ve just got to make things jell a little bit better.”

Ferro said he will rely heavily on four-year players like pitcher Grant Donahue and shortstop Justin Meekins.

Both players have committed to play Division I baseball. Meekins is headed to University of Maryland and Donahue to University of Virginia.

“I feel like being shortstop, I have to talk after every pitch, I have to let everybody know what they’re doing, and we have a lot of young guys too and when they’re feeling down [for making] an error just let them know that they’ll get plenty more chances,” Meekins said of how he will help lead the team.

“And be more of a role model too for them,” he added.

Donahue said he will also play third base this year but take the mound for big games, especially against teams like James M. Bennett and Parkside.

“I feel like I’ll be able to help out the most through pitching. Definitely fill it up – throw as many strikes as I can – and try to help out the younger guys who made the team. Like Justin said, try to be a role model to them,” Donahue said. “I feel so good. Everything is coming back. I’ve got command over my three pitches (fastball, curveball, change up) and I seem to be able to put it where I want it.”

Adams will catch again for the team, and also returning are senior pitchers/outfielders Sean Colgan and Ryan Bennett.

Newcomers, freshman Tristan McDonough (pitcher/infielder) and sophomore Will Sass (pitcher/outfielder), are expected to contribute as well.

Ferro said the team’s strength is again in its pitching and defense.

“We’re not swinging the bat that well, but that’s to be expected. Hopefully we stop taking pitches when we go live and swing the bat and get comfortable. It’s a work in progress,” he said after Monday’s practice. “The upperclassmen have been around varsity three, some four years. With their experience, hopefully they’re acclimated to the game, the speed of the game and they’re used to it.”

Ferro said the first goal is for the Seahawks to progress as student athletes. He also wants them to improve from last season.

“Wins and losses are important, but also I’d like to see them progress emotionally and physically on the field and make better decisions, be prepared for the situations that have arisen before so we don’t get caught up in a situation we’re not prepared for even though we should be,” he said.

The players are shooting for the stars this year. Both Donahue and Meekins said the group is chasing Bayside, regional and state titles.

To accomplish that, Meekins said it will take “good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.”

“We have a lot of returners so that’s always a good thing and there’s not too much bonding that needs to be made,” Donahue said. “With the younger guys who came up, it’s been really easy to bond with them the last couple weeks.”

BASEBALL AND SOFTBALL:

March 23: Mardela, 4 p.m. (H)

March 25: Crisfield, 4 p.m. (A)

March 26: Washington, 4 p.m. (H)

March 30: Snow Hill, 4 p.m. (A)

March 31: Parkside, 4 p.m. (A)

April 1: Bennett, 4 p.m. (H)

April 7: Wicomico, 4 p.m. (A)

April 9: Pocomoke, 4 p.m. (H)

April 10: North Caroline, 4 p.m. (A)

April 13: Mardela, 4 p.m. (A)

April 15: Crisfield, 4 p.m. (H)

April 16: Washington, 4 p.m. (A)

April 20: Snow Hill, 4 p.m. (H)

April 22:Parkside, 4 p.m. (H)

April 23: Bennett, 4 p.m. (A)

April 27: Wicomico, 4 p.m. (H)

April 30: Pocomoke, 4 p.m. (A)

May 1: Indian River, 6 p.m. (H)

(baseball)

Stephen Decatur senior Austin Dundore takes a swing during practice Monday at the Berlin school. Junior Zach Adams is behind the plate.

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