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8A District 13 Preview

The Jaguars are hungry to earn the district title this season.

For such a small district of only three teams, one could not imagine a more competitive environment. The three clubs that now find themselves in a district together for the first time are all built with the same sort of identity as scrappy, ferocious teams that excel on hard-nosed, fundamental baseball and a team-first concept. None of them have won a state title yet, and that drive to be the first group wearing their jersey to do so continues to push each new team each new season to be the ones to plant that first state championship trophy in the case.

Embracing an underdog role has traditionally worked for each of these squads, even times when the talent clearly proved that they were not underdogs. For Atlantic that role will be as tough as ever to maintain after the success the program has enjoyed in reaching the regional playoffs each of the past four seasons. That alone could fuel Coral Glades and Spanish River to still use the underdog approach as that little extra piece of fuel that moves them.

“I’ve actually had people say they wouldn’t play us, and that has never happened in the past,” said Atlantic manager Steve Wilson. “That is OK. But we always look to challenge ourselves each and every day in every game we play.”

As with every three-team district, the top seed will be worth its weight in gold. Earning the top seed for the district tournament will automatically earn that club a spot in the district championship, as well as getting it a berth into the regional playoffs. With three teams built in such similar fashions and all playing the same fundamental style of baseball, even the regular-season district meetings could have a playoff feel to them.

“The most important things is to go 4-0 in your district,” said Coral Glades manager Mike Goulette. “If you do that you are the one seed and you go to regionals. But for the most part they don’t know us and we don’t know them. So it is anybody’s game. It is our best against their best and whoever comes out on top is going to represent the district well.”

AtlanticTeam Page
2015 Record: 14-15
Manager: Steve Wilson
Coaching Staff: Rick Swearingen, Josh Wigelsworth, Will Durgin
Key Returners: Maxwell Charnin, Alex Cordes, Duane Cyr, Cameron Husing, Luis Beltran, Justin Varisco, Michael Pace, Jonathan Scott
Newcomers: Christopher Reed, Austin Saunders, Rian Cyr, Matt Sheridan, Alexis Vargas, Shelby Frazier, Rishi Challa, Matt Sheridan, Jake Eder
Team strengths: Experience, Chemistry

For the past four straight season the Eagles have played their best baseball at the end of the year when it matters most. The club always plays a very challenging schedule and uses the regular season to mold the team into shape for the playoffs, and the players have continually responded by storming through any opposition to get through the district and into the regional playoffs. For so long the group has carried an underdog mentality that helps fuel them, but with that continued success they understand that it will be tough for them to sneak up on anyone anymore.

“From a coaching point of view we always look to do the very best that we can do, underdogs or not being an underdog,” said Wilson. “We have a goal and it is the same goal every year; we want to continue to play into May. That is what we fight for every time. We have had success in the past at the end of the year and we want to start at the beginning of the year and run through the whole year with it. We’ll see what happens.”

The program has enjoyed very mature players that understand the process and do not fret over the wins and losses during the regular season. They have won district titles with a record below .500 and they truly embrace the concept that everyone starts at 0-0 when the district playoffs begin.

“We just join together and we click 100% when it comes to being in big games,” said senior Duayne Cyr. “That is when we show off everything we’ve got so that we can get to where we want to be.”

Coral GladesTeam Page
2015 Record: 13-10
Manager: Mike Goulette
Coaching Staff: Herb Olivencia, Dale Stouffer, Mike Donatucci, Manny Pedrozo, Rylan Rose
Key Returners: Alex Lara, Robert Joy, Steven Godoy, Juan Rodriguez, Joey Juliano, TJ Densmore, Marc Soto, Jonathan Hook, Dennis Leon, Adam Persiner, Kenneth Johnson, Taylor Lerner, Prestone Vegotsky, Nicholas Tishman, Alex Vargas
Newcomers: Michael Contreras, Matthew Gonsalves, John Troia, Nicholas Donatucci
Team strengths: Defense, Pitching

Second-year manager Mike Goulette has his team in a position that any manager would love to be in. The team only lost three players to graduation and it returns 13 seniors and 17 players overall. There is depth across the boards and guys are competing with each other to either earn or maintain their starting position.

“This year we have a lot of depth defensively, and not just as in the infield and outfield but in the pitching as well,” said senior veteran Alex Lara. “I think our top-notch area is our pitching, especially with a three-team district. We have a lot of pitching that can go in for the whole game, and then guys that can go in for one inning and make that inning a shutout. We have kids that are fighting for a spot too. I have played third base since I was a freshman on varsity, so no one is going to beat me out. I am going to fight for that position and put my heart out there, but it is good to see younger guys trying to fight because that is what I want them to do.”

Goulette has preached to his guys to play seven strong innings, and the players are really starting to understand that now. The competition is pushing each player to their maximum potential, and even the younger guys are seeing how that can pay off as freshman Nick Donatucci has earned a starting spot on this veteran squad. Last year the team used as many as 16 guys in a single game and everyone understands that it is up to them to decide if they are working hard enough to deserve the playing time they receive.

*Spanish River also in district: Report unavailable.

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