March 29, 2011
Purple Tigers getting ready to open for new coach
It will be a new-look Cortland High varsity baseball team this spring, as Ben Albright moves up from the head junior varsity coaching spot to take over for John Tobin, who resigned as Purple Tigers head coach last spring after 15 seasons, preceded by two years each with the junior varsity and modified teams.
“I’m very excited to become varsity coach,” said Albright, whose club is slated to open the season at Chittenango Wednesday. “I know that John Tobin has put his life into Cortland baseball. I have known coach Tobin for roughly 10 years, and I remember back when I was a player at SUNY Cortland, how he would always be around. He would come to practices and games and just was always around baseball. This is the extra stuff that goes into building a strong program.
“He made sure his players would be attending the clinics at the college and going to games and playing summer ball. These are all important as you try to improve your players’ skills off the field. Coach Tobin has been a huge asset to have while getting my feet wet in the Cortland baseball program. He has definitely built a strong connection with the community and attained many resources within the community as well,” Albright added.
The new look will also be evident on the field, as only seven of CHS’s 13 players have varsity experience heading into the season. The list of returnees from a team that went 8-8 in the OHSL Freedom Division (tied for fifth) and 10-11 overall after a second-round loss in the Class A sectionals is headed up by senior third baseman-catcher-pitcher Alex Stacy, a second-team all-leaguer as a third baseman-outfielder last spring, when he hit .312 with three home runs, 15 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.
Also back are junior second baseman-pitcher Devon Darrow (.254, six stolen bases), senior catcher-first baseman Brycen Dunn (.270), senior outfielder-pitcher Alex Boyland, senior outfielder-pitcher Ryan Flatt, senior outfielder-pitcher Lucas Bush and sophomore first baseman-pitcher-centerfielder Brian Hughes, who was a JV callup during last season.
The newcomers are senior outfielder Brandon Wells (first year playing) and five players who were on last spring’s 10-6 junior varsity team, coached by Albright. They are juniors Cory Broyles (infielder-pitcher), Will Lessard (utility), Connor Griffin (shortstop, called up for sectionals) and Vinnie Bellardini (outfielder-pitcher) and sophomore pitcher-first baseman-outfielder Kody Cranston.
All of Cortland’s pitchers are right-handers this season.
All-league first-team utility player Justin Burns (.380, five homers) and second-team pitcher-infielder Brandon Watkins (.308, two homers) graduated, as did honorable mention pitcher Matt Carr (3-2, 1.81 ERA), catcher-outfielder Jake Robillard and shortstop Tony Whitt.
“I feel we have a very good infield defense,” Albright said. “I think this will allow our pitchers the luxury to throw strikes and let the ball get hit instead of feeling the pressure to throw it by people. We have the potential to hit the ball, but certainly lost a lot of our offensive leaders last year due to graduation. I know that whoever is on the field for us will be working hard.
“Within this team I had roughly half of the boys on my JV squad last year, and they know what I expect from them, and what level I know they are capable of. The questions is, will we perform at that high level every game, every at-bat, every pitch? We’re very capable, we just need to believe in ourselves as a team. This is what we’ve been working on indoors through our live hitting, and other practice sessions, since day one.”
In talking about the league race, Albright said that “We feel that Jamesville-DeWitt will of course will be a top team in our half of the league. Homer is improving every year, so we know them well, being down the road from us. I personally know that having not seen the varsity teams before, I will not take anybody lightly, as that can be a recipe for disaster. We need to concentrate one game at a time, and make sure we play to our ability every game, not to our opponents’. If we can do this, I feel we can compete with anybody.”
Yale Hughes will be Albright’s assistant coach, while Brandon Galutz will coach the JV team, assisted by Sean Babcock, and Tom Herting will coach the modified squad.
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