LYNN — English shortstop Jomar Moreta has yet to play postseason baseball. For the past few seasons, Moreta has watched the Bulldogs fall short of qualifying for the state tournament despite competing and hanging tough with some of the better teams in the Northeastern Conference.
Now that he’s in his senior season, Moreta’s goal is to make the most of his final year wearing the maroon and white Bulldogs uniform. So far, so good.
Through 11 games, English stands at 8-3 this season.
“This year, it has been our defense,” Moreta said. “Last year we made errors in wrong moments which resulted in one-run losses. This year we’re making those plays and getting the key hits to win those games.
“I spent the offseason training to make the state tournament,” Moreta said. “The past few years we’ve had teams that were good enough to make the tournament but we never met the expectations. This year we have a team that lives up to the hype.”
English started its season with an 18-2 rout over Somerville on the road. The Bulldogs have already matched last season’s win total. The team’s three losses have come to Medford (3-1), Classical (4-0) and Gloucester (3-0).
“We’ve been getting better and better every single game,” Moreta said. “From those losses, we learned not to take any at-bats for granted. We weren’t aggressive at the plate and that led to those shutouts. We learned that we shouldn’t shy away from being aggressive, looking for those good pitches to hit.”
A team captain, Moreta has posted impressive numbers at the plate this spring. He’s batting .405 with three home runs, three doubles, one triple, 10 RBI and 14 runs scored from the leadoff spot. He has also seen time on the mound and pitched three no-hit innings in a win over Somerville (10-3) last week.
“What makes Jomar tough is he can do it all,” English coach Doug Mullins said. ‘He can hit for average, he can hit for power. There really aren’t any holes in his swing. He has speed. Batting leadoff is something he’s comfortable doing. We can bat him anywhere in the order but given his personality, he gets us going. Batting leadoff fits him for a lot of reasons.”
Mullins said the expectations were high for Moreta as he entered his senior season but he never doubted his senior shortstop would meet them.
“You don’t want to put any more pressure on a kid but I had high expectations for him,” Mullins said. “He’s been on varsity since his freshman season. He works at it, he works hard in the weight room. We’ve asked a lot of him but Jomar has delivered. He’s been a leader with both his performance on the field and the way he carries himself in the dugout.
“As impressive as he is on the field, he’s just as impressive off it,” Mullins said. “He has great character. He’s a pleasure to be around. He’s a fun kid that truly loves baseball.”
Before the season, Moreta committed to play college baseball at New Mexico Junior College. With his future endeavors official, Moreta has played with a burden off his shoulders this spring.
“I wasn’t trying to disappoint but it’s less stressful compared to last year,” Moreta said. “Going into this year, things have been a lot easier and it’s been a lot more relaxed.
“We’re 8-3 and it’s a big sigh of relief,” Moreta said. “We’re beating teams that we’re actually capable of beating.”
The Bulldogs have set themselves up nicely to qualify for the state tournament. With nine games remaining in the regular season, English needs just two wins to punch its ticket to the postseason. But that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs can take their foot off the gas the rest of the way.
“Coach Mullins spoke to us about how it doesn’t matter who gets those 10 wins,” Moreta said. “If we keep winning games we’ll be in a better spot in the playoffs. We can’t change our mindset. We have to keep winning games and playing hard.”
“I think all our guys are hungry,” Mullins said. “We don’t have one player on our team that has played in the state tournament. We talk about battling for seven innings every day. We try not to look at the big picture. We have a set of goals but from there on out it’s game by game. We can’t take anybody lightly.”
English hosts Everett Thursday (4) and has another shot at Classical Friday (7), both at Fraser Field.