By Mike Stoller
With a strong core of veteran players returning and a talented young cast arriving, the Somerville High baseball team has the lofty the goal of making it to the postseason after finishing with a 4-13 record last year.
Head coach Mike DiCato, in his second season at the helm, knows it won’t be easy since his squad competes in the highly competitive Greater Boston League. But the Highlanders seem to be ready to throw at least as many punches as they may receive.
“We certainly look to improve upon last year’s 4-13 season,” DiCato said. “So far, the team chemistry and attitude has been great and we look to compete in the GBL and qualify for the state tournament.”
Dicato said the GBL is very strong this year, with Malden and Medford returning nearly all of their starters from talented teams in 2012. The coach said that GBL defending champion Everett is a very good team, despite losing their all-state catcher and GBL MVP pitcher/first baseman to graduation last spring. He also noted that Cambridge “is always a well-coached and a tough team to beat” that also returns a sophomore GBL All-Star pitcher.”
The Highlanders will be led by co-captains Quinton Hawkins and Jonathan Santana, both returning starters.
Hawkins, a senior, is a catcher who plans on playing college baseball next year.
“He has been attending various camps and showcases throughout the year to gain experience and exposure, and it has paid off as he already has some options [to play college ball],” Dicato said. ”Quinton is a talented catcher who works hard and is a leader for us.”
Santana, a centerfielder, is only a junior, who also plans on playing college baseball after he graduates from Somerville High.
“He has unlimited potential as a baseball player and will be key to our team this season,” DiCato said.
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Nolan, meanwhile, was a GBL All-Star as a freshman. Junior Nathan Pacheco will play “a big role at either first or third base, and will be an important part of the [batting] lineup,” DiCato said. Sophomore outfielder Matt Collins also figures to make an impact.
DiCato also said the squad looks to get support from sophomore newcomer Jorge Santanta along with Cody Fitzgerald, a talented pitcher.
“This team has a healthy mix of experienced varsity players and rookies,” DiCato said. “We still have some holes to fill in the outfield and a couple infield positions, so we are hoping some of the new guys can step up and do a good job.
“I project our pitching staff to be a little deeper this year due to more experience and more student-athletes getting involved with the baseball program. We also have one or two freshmen that may contend for a varsity position.”