WILLIAMSTOWn, MA -- The Williams College baseball team looks to bounce back from an injury-riddled season last spring after posting a record of 9-21 and 4-8 in the NESCAC.
By mid-April last year, head coach Bill Barrale only had 15 players to fill out his lineup card.
"We were down 11 bodies … it was a tough year," noted Barrale. "There was a lot of adversity, and a lot of young guys were forced into positions where they had to play—and they did a nice job in those situations."
This spring, the Ephs expect those young players to continue to mature as they build upon a season in which the Eph lineup scored 4.9 runs per game and the pitchers posted a 6.13 earned run average (ERA). While the pitching staff will return the majority of its rotation, the offense will miss the graduation of Jack Roberts, Adam Regensburg, and Adam Dulsky in the middle of the lineup.
Stamas earned a spot on the All-NESCAC second team while roaming the outfield and leading off, where he posted a .321 batting average and stole 9 bases. Next to Stamas in center field, left fielder Eric Mini '21 will be returning from a stellar rookie year in which he drove in 14 runs and batted .298. Phillip Barnett '21, Matt Aventuro '22 and Ryan Young '22 will be in the running to round out the outfield in right.
Schaffer, starting at first base, will captain a talented infield with Kellen Hatheway '19 returning to shortstop and Eric Pappas '21 at second base. Hatheway boasts a list of accomplishments as he enters his senior season, winning Rookie of the Year as a first-year and Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore. The Ephs anticipate the rangy infielder, who posted on-base percentages of .411 and .426 in his first two years, to also bounce back. "The numbers weren't there from him last year, but he had a really, really good summer with the Martha's Vineyard Sharks," Barrale mentioned.
Pappas' first year as an Eph was cut short by injury, but will look to showcase his talents after leading the team in batting average last season. At third base, either Jacob Basil '22, Tom Benz '19, Dan Lynch '22, or Young will man the hot corner. Finally, Panstares will return for his fourth and final season behind the plate as he catches a young pitching staff.
The return of 2017 Rookie of the Year John Lamont '20 will be a huge addition to the pitching rotation, as the southpaw posted a 1.80 ERA in his first season. After missing his sophomore year due to injury, Lamont will integrate himself in a deep pitching staff. "I plan on contributing as many innings as I can for our rotation, but we don't need a workhorse ace or anything like that, so there's no pressure for me or anyone else to be that guy," he said. "This is the best pitching staff we've had in my three years here, top to bottom, which means I'm just going to go out there with the same approach I've always had."
Also returning to the staff are right handers George Carroll '21 and Kyle Dean '20 as well as left handers Jack Bohen '19, Charlie Carpenter '20, and Bryan Woolley '21. Carroll, as a first-year, led the team in ERA (4.23) and innings pitched (44.2) while Bohen struck out 40 batters in 39.1 innings.
The Ephs shape up to be a mix of experienced upperclassmen as well as younger players ready to make an impact. "Up and down the roster, we have guys who can pitch, hit, defend, and run, and we have much more depth on this team than in years past," Panstares noted.
With the grind of a 30-game season approaching, Barrale emphasized the importance of consistency and reliability over the course of the spring.
"We preach, 'Try to play one pitch at a time,'" he said. "The game is physically played one pitch at a time, but it's hard to mentally do that … Baseball is a game where whatever's asked to be done, just try to accomplish that. If it's as simple as hitting the cut-off guy or getting a bunt down or turning a double play—whatever the task at hand is, we're trying to execute at the highest level. And who ever does that the most times I think is going to end up winning the game."
The 2019 season begins with a trip to Florida over spring break, where they will play 14 games in two weeks in preparation for a dogfight in the NESCAC West Division. Barrale noted that Wesleyan, Middlebury, Hamilton, and defending champion Amherst are all in the race for the NESCAC title. "I think it's anybody's league to win."
With the return of key players from injury, the Ephs open the season on Mar. 18 against Old Westbury, as they look to end a playoff drought and win their first NESCAC championship since 2007.
"We're hungry from last year because it wasn't the season anybody anticipated or expected and we had a lot of adversity," Barrale said. "The wins weren't there. But the attitude has been great. The guys have been working hard, and we are excited to get back to action."