Palm Beach High School Baseball
Cardinal Newman High School Baseball

9A District 10 Preview

Boca Raton manager Scott Morrison and several of his players during the team’s 2016 HSBN Media Day press conference.

State realignment did not cause much change for this group, which is exactly how they want it. These clubs have battled together for years cultivating and relishing in the rivalries, and this season figures to be more of the same.

“At least on paper Boca Raton is going to be the team to beat in our district, if not in the whole state,” admitted Santaluces manager Nick Franco. “They are good and they are going to be a challenge. But in our mind there is no reason why we cannot compete for that second spot and try to make it to regionals.”

Every team in the district is eager for the challenge ahead. Nobody is about to back down from anyone else, and the level of competition is encouraging them to embrace the challenge and show what they can do against such tough opposition.

“One thing about me as the type of coach I am is that I am not afraid to play any team,” said Lake Worth manager BJ Gilbert. “any team that wants to strap it up, we can do it. So for us coming into a district to play a team like Boca Raton is great for our program. Boca was very tough last year and i assume they will be this year and I want to play teams like that.”

Boca RatonTeam Page
2015 Record: 23-3
Manager: Scott Morrison
Coaching Staff: Craig Sheets, Julian Cabrera
Key Returners: Michael Amditis, Matthew Weber, Noah Richman, Conor McCormack, Jagger McCoy, Ricardo Gonzalez, Christian Flint
Newcomers: Philip Santiago, Anthony Acino, Zach Zientarski, Bryan Stealy, Gary Putnik, Thomas Moustakis, Aaron Kleintop, Austin Dilbert, Austin Crandell, Kaden Cohen, Nicklaus Becker, Brendan Hughes, Austin Baumann
Team strengths: Pitching

The Bobcats delivered a memorable season in 2015, which included downing rival Park Vista to earn the district championship. The Cobras answered back by beating Boca in the regional playoffs, and with the majority of the team back this year the Bobcats are eager to get back to that same point and write a better ending. Coming in with such a talented and balanced team, Boca is the clear favorite that every other squad will be gunning for.

“I think what we did last year kind of set the stage for what we can do this year,” manager Scott Morrison said. “Coming in last year I don’t think anyone expected anyone to do what we did, but this is the year we have kind of been waiting for. With some transfers we are up to 13 seniors now, and of those 10 are college-bound, and we’re not done there yet. So I think the hunger is there, and the work from that last Park Vista game right up to our first game just leads to this season being one we can make a run.”

With so many future college players together it almost gives the guys a taste of what being on a college roster will be like. There is talent and depth at every position and guys are constantly amazed by the things they see their teammates doing.

“Everybody on the team is really good and it is really fun to play with them,” said senior Christian Flint.

Practices are often where a team defines what sort of season they will have. In the case of the Bobcats this has been the area where guys are showing their dedication and commitment, as well as their leadership and also their ability to be led. Practices are efficient and structured and the team gets their work in efficiently and effectively.

“We have a very pro-style practice with a lot of individual work,” said senior Michael Amditis. “I feel like we could be ahead of anyone and it definitely helps us for the next level. We will already by ready for when we get to college.”

Lake WorthTeam Page
2015 Record: 6-19
Manager: BJ Gilbert
Key Returners: Milton Molina, Omar Sanchez, Richard Ornelas, Jonathan Rodriguez, Nelson Javier Velasquez Romero, Angel Diaz, Rocky Victorio, Tyler VanderSande, Tim Rivera, Angel Cruz, Widgy Adea
Newcomers: Joseph Guevara, Ho-Chi-Ming Hernandez, David Recio, Kenneth Otero
Team strengths: Pitching

Although the Trojans have struggled the past few seasons, that may finally be a thing of the past. Lake worth returns seven seniors this year and 18 players overall. The majority of those guys have played for several years and as a group they have a lot of experience together. Adding into the mix some promising new players and the club has all the reason to trust that these are the guys that will turn things around this year.

“This is going to be a breakout year for us,” said manager BJ Gilbert. “It could go either way for us, because you never know. You just have to get out onto the field and play baseball. We do have a great core of kids and these guys have put in a lot of hard work and dedication. These guys are ready to compete this year a lot more than we have in the past.”

The team dealt with a lot of adversity the past few seasons, but they have been resilient and just kept grinding. The guys continued to put in the work and every year they got better and better. Now all of this things that have happened in the past have helped them grow as a program to be ready for their moment now.

“I knew most of the guys when I came here as a freshmen and that was mainly why I came here was that it was just about playing baseball with my friends,” said senior, four-year starter Tyler Vander Sande. “But Coach Gilbert taught me about competition, and with this new team we are going to go far.”

Leadership is always important in order for a team to have success. Whereas in years past the club was constantly searching for those guys to take the reins and lead the charge, now there is an abundance of them.

“I like being a leader in general and leading a team into victory,” said senior, four-year starter Jonathan Rodriguez. “Our team is strong and we battle. We have gotten hit hard and got knocked down, but we kept getting back up. We’re going to go far this year.”

SantalucesTeam Page
2015 Record: 9-17
Manager: Nick Franco
Coaching Staff: Nate Forsyth, Gary Chanley, Mikey Cohen, Taylor Mcinnis
Key Returners: Justin Anglin, Jacob Collins, McKay Griffin, Zachery Halpern, Eric Johnson, AJ Orrico, Matthew Restivo, Kyle Swaters, Jacob Williams
Newcomers: Sebastian Campos, Malik Lissone, Andrew Johnson, Neiko Megrichian
Team strengths: Offense

The Chiefs are young and inexperienced group in regards to varsity playing experience. Competing in a district with several veteran teams will be a challenge for them, but it is also the sort of environment that will help speed up the learning process.

“We’re a young group but I think there’s some talent there that I think we could build off of,” said manager Nick Franco. “This year may be a bit of a rebuilding-type of season for us. But I like the mix of young talent we have with the returning guys. We only have four seniors so they have the opportunity to be in the lineup everyday, if those younger guys don’t beat them out. The sophomore class is talented and they are pushing the seniors for playing time. If they do we’re going to play young.”

The area where the team has the least experience is on the mound. Thankfully a leader has emerged in junior Malik Lissone, who transferred to the school just before the start of last season and then spent the 2015 campaign dominating at the JV level. Coming off a strong summer that helped land him a future in two years at St. Louis University, Lissone is ready to step up and toe the rubber for the club’s biggest district match ups.

“I just try to lead by example and not think that I am above everybody else,” Lissone said. “We like to work together as a pitching staff so they are not just learning from me, I am learning from them as well. We are all growing together as a young staff. I will be on the mound for the majority of the innings so I just try to use that to help the team grow.”

*Park Vista also in district. Report unavailable.

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