Edison High School went 9-17 in the 2018 baseball season.
The Eagles were breaking in a lineup with new varsity starters.
But now those players are experienced –and confident that they can win in 2019.
They actually think they can do more than improve on nine victories and finish above .500.
The Eagles are talking about competing for the Greater Middlesex Conference’s Red Division title. Edison finished last in the division in 2018.
“We plan on taking the division,” said Frank Vega, Edison’s senior catcher.
“We’re pretty confident,” added Mike Smith, a senior outfielder. “We got a good group.”
There is evidence to back up that statement, too. Edison’s five returning positional starters hit pretty well last year.
Smith, Sammy Cruz and Evrin Virola all hit .293 or better. Cruz batted .388 with 14 runs scored and 10 runs batted in. Vega showed potential by raking three doubles.
Senior first baseman Chris Biolsi was probably Edison’s most complete offensive player. He recorded 20 walks, 14 RBI, 14 runs, eight extra base hits and seven stolen bases.
Despite its solid lineup, though, Edison only scored 4.4 runs per game last spring. The Eagles could hit on their own. But they rarely executed situational offense.
After a year of experience together, that should change this season.
“This year people are playing together more,” Vega said.
The catcher really likes what he sees from Cruz, who added muscle and power in the offseason.
“He got a lot stronger and is hitting the ball a lot farther,” Vega said.
Smith also expects to improve. He was on fire last year until taking a bat to the face during a midseason practice. The incident forced the outfielder to sit for a couple weeks. When he came back, he struggled at the plate.
Barring another freak accident, Smith thinks he can raise his batting average by more than 25 points.
“If I stay consistent I should hit at minimum above .350,” he said.
For Edison coach Vincent Abene, filling out a lineup card won’t be difficult. The challenge will be building a pitching staff.
Three Edison pitchers threw more than 20 innings last year. They all graduated after the season.
Seniors Nico Chipoco and Owen Fogarty are the most experienced varsity hurlers back for 2019. Both experienced some success last spring, but not consistently.
Abene is excited to develop his arms. He has been coaching the Eagles for 17 years, and he enjoys the annual challenge of developing the roster.
“I just love that every year is different,” he said.
The coach is not as audacious as his players in outlining expectations for 2019. But like them, he is confident the Eagles will improve.
“The guys work hard and want to win,” Abene said.
He has seen that hard work in practice this March. Last year, Edison’s practices were choppy. Abene often had to interrupt them to teach lessons.
This year, though, the sessions have been crisp.
“It looks like we’ve been playing for a few months now,” Smith said.
“Since we have older guys who played last year, we know what we’re doing, so practice is almost perfect,” Vega said.
Edison will open its season on April 1 at home against John F. Kennedy Memorial High School.