By: Elliot Kaufman ’19
As the weather warms up and the jam-packed spring season starts, the Staples Wreckers varsity baseball team hopes to bounce back from its moderate season last year. After finishing last season at an even 10-10 record, the team hopes to utilize the underclassmen and dynamic senior leadership this year to improve the team. This year’s team, with numerous seniors going to college for baseball, has high hopes for the season.
Head coach Jack McFarland is entering his 13th year coaching in the Staples baseball program. He has lots of experience bringing teams to FCIAC and state title games, and won FCIAC Baseball Coach of the Year in 2009. With many years to be proud of, McFarland also had to deal with the problematic season a year ago. “Injuries really hurt us. If we can stay healthy our season can be much better than last year,” McFarland said. McFarland knows this group of kids very well, and some are even playing their third year at the varsity level under the leadership of McFarland.
The senior leadership for the team this year will be tremendous, as they have all played with each other for many years in the Staples baseball program, and Westport baseball in general. Ben Casparius ’17, Robert Stone ’17, Ryan Fitton ’17, and Michael Fanning ’17, will be the captains hoping to lead the team to a successful season.
All of these players were sophomores on the team that reached the state and FCIAC finals in 2015. “Everybody has played together for a couple years now and it’s exciting to see what a strong grade can do their final season,” Fanning said about the team’s overall chemistry coming into the season. Not only the captains, but the entire senior class has had great varsity experience and has been working all winter for opening day. “We have a dedicated senior class that is ready to win and deep talent in every class,” Stone said about the strengths of this years team.
Casparius will be playing for University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, after committing during sophomore year. Stone will be pitching for College of the Holy Cross, and George Goldstein ’17 will be pitching for Middlebury College.
“Individually I know everyone is working hard to be prepared the first day of tryouts. Informally we’ve done some captains practices and some team building events,” Stone stated about the team’s preparation for the season skills wise and clearly chemistry wise.
An exciting aspect of this team will be the experience of the pitching staff. “We have 5 great pitchers that return this year that canpitch a full game but if we need to go to the bullpen we have a lot of depth there as well,” Fitton said on the topic of what to watch for this season. “We didn’t pitch last year as well as we have in the past,” McFarland added. This year’s senior class will shine at a range of positions, but this year, some underclassmen will be crucial to the team’s success.
“Harry Azadian and Chad Knight are two talented underclassmen who I can see having an impact this year. I’ve known them for many years and know that when it comes down to the wire, both of them are ready to do whatever it takes to get the win,” Stone said.
Harry Azadian ’19 is coming from Fairfield Country Day School and will be playing his first season with Staples baseball. While it will definitely be a step up in competition, Azadian is ready to take it on with the rest of the team. “I’ve also been impressed to see a lot of guys putting in their work before the season to get ready. Working behind guys like that motivates me more to work harder,” Azadian said about the offseason training with the varsity players in order to have a successful first year playing ball for Staples. “New kid on the block Harry Azadian is a great addition to the team with his bat and arm,” Fanning said about Azadian’s strengths and addition to the team. Azadian was a crucial part of the team that went to the Little League World Series in 2013, along with Chad Knight ’19.
Knight was a starter as a freshman batting high in the order playing third and pitching. Knight will be
a veteran as a sophomore, and also has the experience of pitching against Amity, last year’s class LL champions. “Missing out on the FCIAC Tournament last year was certainly humbling for all of us, however I think that has only made us even more motivated to work extra hard this offseason to achieve our goals of winning a County and State Championship,” Knight said. As a key underclassman the rough season was clearly disappointing, but obviously he wants to improve and excel in the coming years. With addition of Azadian and progress that Knight has been making, the team will definitely benefit from these two players.
Watching the senior leadership, the underclassman contribution, and team chemistry already, it is clear that the Staples varsity baseball team is poised to have a successful season this year. With the crucial senior class leaving after this season, they hope to make the most of their last season playing Wreckers Baseball.
Captains: Ben Casparius (UNC), Rob Stone (Holy Cross), Mike Fanning, Ryan Fitton (UCONN Football).
Coach: Jack McFarland
Most Recent Accomplishments– Division Win 2014 and 2015.
Key Lost Players After Last Year– Noah Yokoi (All state) (pg year Cheshire Academy), Jon Dedomenico (All West), Max Popken (Honorable Mention).
Key Players From Last Year– Chad Knight (All West), Ryan Fitton (All West), George Goldstein (All West), Ben Casparius (All FCIAC)
Underclassmen– Harry Azadian (FCDS), Chad Knight (All West).
Last Season: 10-10