Baseball: Shelton will battle each game in SCC
Practice makes perfect is something to which Shelton High coach Scott Gura subscribes.
"I tell them ‘practice like you will play,’” he said. “Perfect practice makes perfect play. If you are not tired by the end of practice, you are not working hard enough.”
This philosophy doesn’t secure a perfect season, but the Gaels will strive to make the opposition work as hard to beat them.
Gura is hopeful a combination of the right approach to practice — and some solid returning players— make for a successful campaign.
“Strengths will be good leadership, a hard-working blue-collar team that will scrap for runs and rely on pitching depth, and a coaching staff that will work each day to make the players improve,” Gura said.
Gura is assisted by Joe Lizza (Derby and University of New Haven), Dave Moore (Fairfield Prep and Fairfield University), junior varsity coach Jeff Van Scoy and freshman coach Mike Riccio.
Last year, the Gaels went 11-10 overall, including a first-round Class LL state tournament defeat to Glastonbury. They went 9-9 in Southern Connecticut Conference play.
Shelton lost some key players to graduation: Shortstop Will Ciccone, a two-year All-SCC player now competing at the University of Bridgeport; All State first baseman Matt Hunyadi (.512 batting average, four home runs); and pitchers’ Justin Barbato, Justin Hafele, and Jafar Vohra (Clark University).
This leaves a handful of starting positions up for grabs.
Gura and the coaching staff are evaluating eight outfielders and seven infielders for what the head coach calls “healthy competition” to start the year.
“They have been working hard to earn a varsity spot,” he said.
Seniors that will help lead the Gaels are shortstop Alex Kozlowski, outfielder Colin St. Pierre and outfielder/pitcher Mike Kennedy.
Joe Romano is a catcher who may also pitch.
Dylan DeSio, a second baseman, will be the team’s leadoff batter.
"I believe with a good core of players back — Kennedy, Romano, St. Pierre, DeSio and Kozlowski — we should compete for the division title against Hand and Hamden,” Gura said.
The Gaels do not waste any time getting into tough competition.
Opening day is against Class LL state champion Cheshire. The Rams visit on Wednesday, April 3, at 4.
Shelton’s first tilt is followed up by a visit from FCIAC team Fairfield Warde. The Mustangs visit April 6 at 1.
Gura’s squad visits Hamden on April 12 at 4, and visits Daniel Hand of Madison April 17 at 1.
The Gaels kick off a scheduled (Mother Nature permitting) five-game home stretch with a rematch against Hamden on April 29 at 4. The home stand includes another clash with Hand. Shelton’s regular slate concludes with a visit to Cheshire May 17 at 4.
“I expect us to have a rewarding season if we stay healthy, have clutch hitting and pitchers that can go deep in games and throw strikes. That is a recipe for success,” Gura said.