Young Huskies hit diamond

Joe Lagani takes a cut against Clarkstown on March 22. The junior catcher will provide veteran leadership this year.

Joe Lagani takes a cut against Clarkstown on March 22. The junior catcher will provide veteran leadership this year.

By MIKE SMITH
After finishing 11-10 in 2013, the Harrison Huskies are coming into the spring short on veterans, but long on talent according to head coach Marco DiRuocco. As the young team prepares for the rigors of a challenging schedule, he said, it is starting to show the ability to contend at the varsity level. 

Only a few starting players return from last year’s club, which suffered a first round playoff loss to Sommers. Captain Joe Lagani will be one of those veteran voices, as he and pitcher/infielders JD Burnett and Matt Baker will serve as the team’s captains for this year’s Huskies squad.

A handful of other returning players, including pitchers Mike Suozzo and Dean McCarthy, also saw time last year and should help shepherd this extremely young team through its first varsity season.

Jack Witte is caught in a run down on March 22. All signs point to team speed being one of Harrison’s strengths this year. Photos/Mike Smith

Jack Witte is caught in a run down on March 22. All signs point to team speed being one of Harrison’s strengths this year. Photos/Mike Smith

According to DiRuocco, however the underclassmen on the roster certainly have the ability to turn Harrison into a contender this year.

“So far, this is a great group of kids, with a great work ethic since day one,” he said. “Our biggest concern is simply how long it takes them adjust to playing at this level, because that’s going to determine how this year goes.”

 

Early on in the preseason, DiRuocco and his coaching staff have been fairly impressed by the competitiveness of the youngsters.

Sophomore Dean McCarthy throws a pitch during Harrison’s March 22 scrimmage against Clarkstown South. Head coach Marco DiRuocco was impressed with his staff’s ability to throw strikes.

Sophomore Dean McCarthy throws a pitch during Harrison’s March 22 scrimmage against Clarkstown South. Head coach Marco DiRuocco was impressed with his staff’s ability to throw strikes.

On March 22, the Huskies scrimmaged against Clarkstown South at Passidomo Park. DiRuocco said he was particularly keen on the ability of his pitching staff and the overall team speed.

“I was happy with the way we played, we threw a lot of strikes especially Dean McCarthy [a sophomore], and Jack Witte impressed us with his bat and his speed,” DiRuocco said. “I think this is definitely the fastest team we’ve ever had here at Harrison.”

DiRuocco said although the Huskies didn’t have the greatest day at the plate, any
offensive shortcomings the team had against Clarkstown had less to do with sheer ability than circumstance.

“Everyone out there is seeing live pitching for the first time,” he said. “So I’m sure we’re going to get better.”

The Huskies open up the season on March 31 against Rye Neck. DiRuocco knows his young squad will soon be tested, as the league includes top teams such as Horace Greeley, Fox Lane and rival Rye.

Head coach Marco DiRuocco has a word with Jack Witte at third base on March 22.

Head coach Marco DiRuocco has a word with Jack Witte at third base on March 22.

“It’s a tough schedule, it’s always competitive and we know that,” he said. “We’ve just got to pitch well and play good defense. We are confident in these kids as a coaching staff. Now we just have to get them confident in
themselves.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.