BROCKTON, Mass. ---- Coach Tom Frizzell has the luxury of having some experienced pitchers back on his staff for their sophomore seasons at Massasoit for the 2016 season.
The Warriors feature just eight returning players overall, but five of which are pitchers and three saw significant action on the bump during their freshman campaigns.
The trio of starters return including lefty Jake Stearns (Plymouth) and righties Zack Reid (Dighton) and Mike Nader (Hollywood, Fla.). These three pitchers combined to make 25 appearances, including 21 starts and 10 complete games for a total of 129.1 innings.
As a staff last year, the Warriors struck out 215 batters, 116 coming from the Stearns-Reid-Nader combo. But, that same staff walked a total of 105 and hit 51 batters.
The key for these three and the rest of the staff in 2016 will be to showcase control and pound the strike zone.
"There is no question that we are going to be depending on returners Jake Stearns, Zack Reid and Mike Nader along with freshman James Bussiere, who has been very impressive so far inside," Frizzell said. "One of the things that the sophomores understand from a year ago is that, you have to limit the number of walks and hit batters. You can't give the other team free base runners."
Frizzell also returns a pair of right-handed relievers in Scott Anderson (Plymouth) and Liam Richmond (Hingham) to go along with two freshman who will also see action in the field in righties Bryan Dwyer (Abington) and Jack DeCoste (East Sandwich). Freshman right-hander James Bussiere (Norwood) will also be expected to log plenty of innings for the Warriors.
"Scott Anderson has looked really good inside and we also have two freshmen who are positional players, Bryan Dwyer and Jack DeCoste, who will both help out on the mound," Frizzell said. "So I think pitching is going to be a strong point on this team. Again, last year as freshmen, the walks and hit batters hurt us, and they have been working really hard at that inside to make those type of adjustments."
Not only is Frizzell pleased with the depth the staff and experience he has returning, he also is pleased with the staff's preparation since the end of last season and into this spring.
"All three (Stearns, Reid, Nader) pitched over the summer, all three worked hard in the fall," Frizzell said. "We started practices on January 10th and some of our pitchers have thrown three sets of 80 pitches and one set of 100. In my 25 years coaching we've never had pitchers at that point getting ready to head down to Florida."
With only two regular positon players back in Alex Carey and Justin Martinho, Frizzell thinks that the pitchers being ready at an advanced stage heading to Florida has also benefited the hitters.
"Conversely, the hitters have hit against these guys live for over three and a half weeks. Prior to that the most we have ever hit against live pitching was five practices before our trip down south," he said.
Frizzell feels his team is at full strength and prepared to open the 2016 season.
"This year has been a lot different in the way that we have prepared them and so far everyone is healthy and ready to go," he said.
The Warriors begin the year facing Hagerstown CC (Maryland) on Friday at 10 a.m. in Vero Beach, Fla.