Seasoned St. Joseph will utilize speed to succeed

St. Joseph baseball will be led by captains Chris Simone and Joe Adzima.

St. Joseph baseball will be led by captains Chris Simone and Joe Adzima.

St. Joseph Athletics / Contributed photo

St. Joseph played a slew of sophomore a year ago. Coach Jim Chaves is looking for that investment to pay dividends this season. To maximize that payout, the Cadets will tweak its game plan.

“Offensively we need to play a different style. In the past we had some big home run hitters. This year we need to play more small ball,” said Chaves, in his 12th season. “We will run the bases to get our offense going. We have good hitters but not a ton of power. We are athletic with good team speed. That should play in our favor.”

It all begins with pitching.

“We will begin with three starters, Matt Tabet, Joe Adzima and freshman Brandon Rovinelli. All righties,” Chaves said. “Out of the pen we’ll mix and match with Nick Coppola, a sophomore lefty, Chris Simone, Gabe Sand and Ryan Tomey.”

Simone (outfield) and Joe Adzima (pitcher) are captains.

Chaves said: “Chris Simone is in left. He is our two-hitter. Last year hit about .330. He is a high on-base guy, draws a lot of walks. Brandon Hutchison will be in center. He is very good out there. When he gets on base, he can cause trouble with his legs. In right field is returning junior Sebastian Sampieri. He became a starter a third into last year and finished hitting .320. We expect improvement. Another athlete with good speed, Sebastian fits the bill for the offense we will play. Nick Coppola will also play outfield. Our DH will be lefty Mickey Covino. He has speed and decent power.

“John McNabola will be our catcher. He is a senior and good defensively.”

The infield is solid.

“Junior Andrew Keeler returns at first base. He’ll hit fifth. By end of last season, he was our best hitter. Andrew has the most pop in our lineup,” Chaves said. “Mike Fiatarone is a sophomore at second. He’ll bat leadoff. Will Singewald is a returnee at shortstop. He is a junior and will bat third. He hit .340 last year. We need more of the same. Third base will be patchwork. Tabet will play there when he doesn’t pitch. Gabe Sand (senior) and Paden Larkins (sophomore) will play there as well.”

Landon Zdru is backup first base, Riley Jordan backup catcher and DH, and Anthony Greco a utility player and pinch runner.

Chaves credits his five seniors, Simone, Adzima, Tomey, McNabola and Sand, for making sure the offseason went well with lifting and workouts.

“I feel we will be good, and I think we will be good next year too. We had 12 freshmen come out. Out of that we have some good baseball players,” Chaves said. “If we can find five or six (frosh) each year we will always be able to compete.”

Season opener

Matt Tabet was at the top of his game when St. Joe’s defeated Notre Dame-Fairfield 3-0 to open the season.

“Matt pitched a complete game. He threw only 80 pitches. He gave up two hits, with eight strikeouts, one walk,” Chaves said. “We didn’t do much offensively. But we played some good defense and pitched well. We scored one in the first, third and fifth. Tabet had two hits, two RBIs.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354