Baseball: Pitching crucial to young team’s success

Shelton High’s baseball team, not unlike many others, expects to rely on its pitching to carry it back to the postseason. Just how important will the mound work of the Gaels be this spring?

Well, consider this: Within a group of ten graduates were six starters/regulars among position players, meaning two-thirds of the lineup has been turned over.

But the pitching staff is back with plenty of experience; in fact, five hurlers with substantial varsity innings under their belts will toe the rubber this season.

“We’re going to be very young and inexperienced at the varsity level, but I feel we have a good core of talent coming back and our strength is our pitching,” coach Scott Gura said.

Will Ciccone (also shortstop), Jafar Vohra, Justin Barbato and Justin Hafele and Mike Kennedy (also an outfielder) make for a formidable pitching staff.

Team captains are Ciccone and first baseman Mike Hunyadi.

Shelton went 9-11 last year, qualified for the Class LL state tournament as the No. 27 seed, and fell to No. 6 Wilton in the first round.

“It will always keep you in games,” Gura said of good pitching, adding his team has what it takes to make a run at the SCC’s Oronoque Division title. “Their attitudes are very good. It might take time to adjust. It’s tough coming up and getting your first taste of varsity.”

Gura said his team will practice hard and make use of its indoor batting cage and gym space while the fields recover from the late winter storms.

Practice makes perfect, right?

“I think the real term should be perfect practice makes perfect,” said Gura, alluding to the importance of taking the time before the season and between games seriously. “If you work hard in practice it’s going to carry over into the games.

Tough teams on the slate include Fairfield Prep, North Haven, Guilford and defending state champion Foran of Milford. A challenging non-conference team on the schedule is Fairfield Warde.