THE MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL baseball team got its preseason training underway with catchers and pitchers reporting on Monday. Above, sophomore Cam Cox, a catcher, receives a ball thrown by teammate Kevin Carter, shown right. The Eagles will open up the 2015 season at home against Lawrence on April 22.

THE MT. ARARAT HIGH SCHOOL baseball team got its preseason training underway with catchers and pitchers reporting on Monday. Above, sophomore Cam Cox, a catcher, receives a ball thrown by teammate Kevin Carter, shown right. The Eagles will open up the 2015 season at home against Lawrence on April 22.

TOPSHAM

Spring has arrived. Well, at least according to the calendar. As far as Mother Nature is concerned, winter is going to hang around for a little while longer, or so it seems.

 

 

However, that hasn’t stopped the spring sports teams from opening up their training sessions. Mt. Ararat High School’s pitchers and catchers reported to the gym on Monday to get things started for the baseball team, with goals for a successful, improved-upon season in the spotlight.

Figure, the Eagles have traveled a few bumpy roads in recent time, finishing 2-14 last year and a combined 7- 25 during 2012 and 2013. But, that hasn’t stopped head coach Bob Neron and the rest of the squad from being optimistic.

“We have good coaches,” Neron said. “I talk to the (middle school) guys all the time. I ask them who they have, who do they have that could help me, because we’re looking to improve. We’ve had a losing team over the last four years and I think we’re going to start to see a turnaround. There are some good, young players coming up. This freshmen class is probably the strongest class we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Much like the other sport seasons, the Kennebec Valley

Athletic Conference has been notorious for featuring some of the strongest teams in the state. Teams such as rival Brunswick, Bangor, Cony and Oxford Hills have made the KVAC a tough league to compete in, making the willingness to get better for the Eagles higher than ever.

“I hope in the beginning of this year we can form the fundamentals of the team,” sophomore catcher Cam Cox said. “Just get some of that good chemistry going into the season. Our overall goal is to make playoffs. Anything would be better than the last place finish we had last year, which we need to get out of.”

“We have to give our best and make sure people remember us,” Eagles captain and starting pitcher Kevin Carter said. “I think we’re going to shock some people. We may be young, but we have a lot of talent coming up and I think Ararat baseball is going to surprise a lot of people the next few years.”

Mt. Ararat’s pitching staff has held its own, but the offensive side of the baseball has struggled. As the 2015 season gets underway, the Eagles focus will turn toward putting the bat on the ball and improve upon the average 2.4 runs a game produced a year ago.

“We’re looking for offense,” Neron said. “We’re an offensive-challenged team, we only hit .200 as a team (last year). Our pitching has been good, but what I’m looking for is offense. We’re looking for guys who can get good at bats, have good plate discipline, put the ball in play, don’t strikeout a lot and hopefully things will improve.”

“First off we need to hit more,” Carter said. “That is clear since our team batting average hasn’t been the greatest. We need to pitch well, and hitting the weight room would help too. Physical fitness is key in sports.”

Both Cox and Carter stated that offense has become the priority for them this year in regard to their own personal improvement.

“My personal goal is to hit over .330,” Cox said. “Last year I was around .280. As a freshman that’s OK, but I need to hit better in order to help the team thrive and that’s what a lot of people’s goal should be.”

“I want to improve on my hitting,” Carter said. “This offseason I gained 13 pounds in muscle so I’ve put in the work and I’m ready to hit and I’m ready to go.”

Stepping stones are all Neron is looking for out of his team, starting with the training process over the next couple of weeks before the very hopeful first regular season game against Lawrence on April 22.

“I would love to get to .500 (winning percentage) this year and build from there,” he said. “I think these guys do it, I’m encouraged. They’re good kids and it’s not all about wins and losses for me. I want to win as much as the next guy, but they’re good kids, fun to be around and their energy is great to be around. I feed off of that.”


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