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Sluggers Looking To Be A ‘Part Of Something Special’ As They Swing For Tournament Success



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Chilly weather continues as preseason gives way to the regular slate on the baseball diamonds, but Newtown High School’s sluggers are already thinking about not only the warmest days of spring but extending the season well into late May in the South-West Conference Tournament and into June with a State Tournament run.

“Our goal year in and year out is to win the SWC and state championship. We have a great group of kids that want to be part of something special,” Newtown Coach Ian Thoesen said.

That group is led by the following captains: outfielder Dhilan Amin, outfielder/third baseman Yarema Stasyshyn (committed to Salem State University in Salem, Mass.), catcher Hayden Conklin, and pitcher/third baseman Evan Nikolis.

Among other key contributors returning from last year’s lineup are pitcher/first baseman Jamie Piccuillio, pitcher/first baseman Finn Geissler, middle infielder Jonathan Moseman, and pitcher/shortstop Danny Leyva.

Although the goal may be the same each year, something that makes this year’s version of the Nighthawks a viable contender is its experience. With a solid core returning to the field and experience throughout the lineup, the Nighthawks have reason to believe they can be in the mix.

Newtown won the SWC title not long ago, in 2022, and last year posted a 13-7 record, fell to eventual champ Joel Barlow of Redding in the conference tourney quarterfinals, then reached the Class LL State Tournament’s second round. A lot of players who had significant roles last year and gained varsity experience, including playing in a dozen games decided by just one run — Newtown went 7-5 in such contests — are back with the goal to challenge for a title or two.

“We had a young team last year that got a lot of experience combined with a new young group this year. They are experienced and will feed off each other,” said Thoesen, adding that hard work in practices and gelling as a group will be key to achieving this success.

Thoesen believes a little improvement at the plate, which stands to come with a season of varsity under the belts of the youngest team members, will help the Hawks be tough to beat game in and game out.

The SWC is loaded with competitive lineups, especially Barlow, Thoesen noted. Additionally, NHS will challenge itself with some nonconference matchups against the likes of defending Class LL State Champion and three-time FCIAC winner Fairfield Warde. That matchup will take place in Fairfield on Tuesday, April 9 at 4:30 pm.

Newtown will also take on FCIAC foes Fairfield Ludlowe (in the season opener, originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 2, but rained out and rescheduled for Saturday, April 6 at 3 pm), along with New Canaan, Norwalk, and St Joseph of Trumbull. Among the games to circle on the schedule are Friday, April 19, when Barlow visits NHS at 4:15 pm and Friday, May 3, when the Hawks take on rival Masuk of Monroe at Fairfield Hills starting at 6:30 pm.

“The kids are excited to get back on the field. I stress to the players that it’s about the process and I want them to enjoy it everyday,” Thoesen said.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Jamie Piccuillo follows through on his swing.
Catcher Hayden Conklin throws the ball back to the pitcher during Newtown’s win.
Third baseman Evan Nikolis sets to throw the ball across the infield for an out.
Second baseman Jonathan Moseman throws the ball after an out.
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