Lumberjacks look for improvement
TUPPER LAKE — After a rough season with no wins last year, the Lumberjacks baseball team is looking to build on varsity experience as the team hits the diamond.
Tupper Lake does not field a junior varsity team, so players typically go from modified to varsity. And with that large leap, players can face an uphill battle. But with a roster almost completely full of returning players, coach Travis Dupuis said things are looking brighter.
“Last year we were pretty young so we’re coming back,” Dupuis said. “I think out of 14 players, 12 are coming back. A lot of them — even though they’re mostly juniors now — they know what’s going on, they’ve played varsity for a year so we should be a lot better than last year.”
Last year, the NYSPHSAA instituted new pitching rules that limit how many pitches a player can throw before requiring time off of the mound. And while the rule was no doubt intended to protect young athletes, teams like Tupper Lake — that have limited numbers of players — can face difficulties based solely on a lack of pitchers.
“Right now, Mike Hyde, Bradley McClear and Skyler Pickering look like they’re going to be our starting pitchers,” Dupuis said. “Jack Skiff [and] Ben Cassagrain look like they’ll be our top two closers.
“Not having JV really hurts us. It’s a huge jump from modified to varsity.”
Although last year was a bitter pill to swallow, Dupuis is looking forward to building on improvements made in 2017.
“We improved a lot during the season and were really starting to play pretty well during the last couple games,” he said. “Last season there was usually one inning in each game that we just could not get out of and would put the game out of reach. If we can limit errors this season we should be a competitive team in the league.”
Hyde, a senior, said he’s excited to see what a full roster of returning players can accomplish.
“We’re getting a lot better already,” he said. “We’re already better than we were last year. Hopefully we can get a couple wins and win a couple playoff games.
“We’re pretty well balanced, we’re already in the (batting) cage. We got to hit a lot earlier than we did last year. Just all around, we’re looking good. Everything we did last year is going to carry over this season. It’s really going to pay off.”