Defending SWC Champ NHS Sluggers Swinging For More Playoff Success
Newtown High School’s baseball team is striving to be the best in both the South-West Conference and Class LL state, and whether or not the Nighthawks enter into the postseason as the top team in the regular season, this squad knows it is a whole new ballgame in the playoffs.
Last year’s Nighthawk sluggers were the No. 3 seed and scored a walk-off SWC championship victory over No. 4 Masuk of Monroe, which upset top-seeded Joel Barlow of Redding to get to the pinnacle game.
Experience is a strength but with that previous playoff exposure and championship status comes the position of being the team to beat, adding challenge to overcome on the road back to the top.
“I feel we have experience and these kids have all been part of postseason play. I tell them all the time that other teams will be stepping up to play you,” Newtown Coach Ian Thoesen said. “We have expectations each year and I tell these kids I just want them to work hard and have good attitudes. They will be prepared and good things come with that. I feel the best way to deal with pressure is to prepare yourself and work hard.”
Thoesen likes the makeup of this team given both its veterans and younger standouts coupled with the talent both on the mound and at the plate.
“We have a mix of young and old and a lot of pitching,” the coach said. “Pitching and hitting will be the big part of our success.”
Captains are pitcher/first baseman Will Burns, first baseman Reid Burns, and outfielders Sam D’Aprile and Josh Rosen.
The Hawks also have a few young returning players in sophomore shortstop/pitcher Danny Leyva, sophomore pitcher/utility player Griffin Giessler, and infielder/outfielder Yarema Stasyshyn.
“We’ve got a great group of kids who work hard every day. I’m very confident we will have a successful year,” Thoesen said.
Bethel and New Fairfield are among the potentially toughest teams in the SWC, Newtown’s coach anticipates. Given what transpired last spring — and the fact it is baseball and on any given day a pitcher who is on his game, a hard-luck lineout or perfectly-placed blooper can make the difference — it is anybody’s game.
The Nighthawks are scheduled to begin the season with three games against nonconference teams Maloney of Meriden, Fairfield Ludlowe, and Fairfield Warde, the latter of which visits for the Hawks’ home opener on Wednesday, April 5 for a 4:30 pm first pitch.
Newtown goes on the road for games with Bethel and New Fairfield, both later in April. Nonconference games, in addition to the three aforementioned, will be against Norwalk, St Joseph of Trumbull, and Conard. The Hawks ended last year’s conference title run against Masuk and this year conclude the regular season with a date at Masuk, Tuesday, May 16 at 4:15 pm.
Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at email@example.com.