LYNN — English baseball coach Doug Mullins and his players know the challenge that’s ahead of them this spring. With a new season on the horizon, the Bulldogs are excited to get started out on the diamond. But they’ll have to do so without 12 of last spring’s seniors.
Among those who left the team last year to graduation were Devin Curley, Briston Maynard, Alex Rodriguez and Wilbur Rosario.
“We just need guys that are ready to step up,” Mullins said. “There are opportunities to be had. We have five returning players from last year’s team, all seniors. We’re not exactly a young team but we’re inexperienced in terms of varsity experience. We just need guys that are capable of stepping into those roles. I think they’re capable of doing such.”
Last season’s Bulldogs didn’t accomplish what they set out to. English competed and hung tough with its opponents but fell short of the state tournament. The Bulldogs finished the 2018 regular season 8-12.
“Last year we lost a lot of close games,” Mullins said. “We played a lot of teams tough. It seemed like we never got that key hit or made that key play to get wins. It certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. Some of those games are the games we’ll need to pull out this year to make the tournament.”
The five seniors returning are Andy Duverge (outfielder), Julio Figueroa (outfielder/pitcher), Jomar Moreta (shortstop/pitcher), Juan Subervie (infielder) and Erick Ubri (outfielder). Duverge and Moreta are co-captains.
“They’re both great student-athletes,” Mullins said. “They’re very reliable, they do everything I ask. They’re certainly ‘lead by example’ type guys.”
Also expected to contribute are senior catcher/first baseman Ethan Labbe, freshman infielder/outfielder Anthony Mateo, freshman outfielder Jose Morel and sophomore infielder Clodys Paramoys.
“Something me and my coaches have talked about is this group seems to be together,” Mullins said. “We’ve noticed a great routine. Guys seem to be rooting for each other regardless of the situation. We have chemistry, which we’ll need this year. We certainly have holes to fill but we believe we have the guys that can do it. There are new opportunities, we just need guys to step into their roles and excel at them.
“We have some good athletes in our lineup,” Mullins said. If we’re able to put the ball in play I think we’ll be a solid offensive team. The key is situational hitting.”
English currently carries five right-handers in its pitching rotation. Moreta, who logged innings on the mound last spring, is joined by Figueroa, Mateo, Albert Torres and Julian Sylvestri.
“A lot of these guys don’t have experience on the mound at the varsity level,” Mullins said, “but we do have guys that have talent. If they can step up and throw strikes, they’ll give us a chance to win games. Those are the guys we’ll rely on and I think they have what it takes to get it done.”
Mullins said he’s pleased with what he saw through the first week of practice.
“Things look good so far,” Mullins said. “Guys bring a lot of energy every day. They enjoy being there. The work ethic is something us coaches have been proud of and happy with. The weather has been decent as well. This is the earliest we’ve been outside. So far things are going well.”
Life in the Northeastern Conference wasn’t easy on the Bulldogs last season. Although the conference is split differently this year, Mullins still expects his team to be challenged.
“The NEC’s always consistently tough,” Mullins said. “We’re playing Medford, Malden, Revere, Salem, Everett and Classical. We play everybody twice so we get two cracks at everybody. Medford went 17-3 last year. It’s always tough going against Classical. Salem’s always a dogfight. We’ll have our hands full. We’ll need to scrap together some wins and be as consistent as we can.”
English opens the season April 15 (10 a.m.) at Somerville. The Bulldogs play their home opener April 20 (1 p.m.) against Marblehead.
“Our goal is to reach the state tournament,” Mullins said. “This year’s no different. We have some holes to fill but we think we have the right guys to do it.”