High School Baseball: Pitching-Rich Simsbury Looks To Tighten Up Defense

Simsbury coach Dave Masters has a luxury many coaches would love to have: Plenty of pitching.
Simsbury coach Dave Masters has a luxury many coaches would love to have: Plenty of pitching. (Hartford Courant)

As the spring finally gets underway, the Simsbury High baseball team, while rife with talent, is looking to correct some early season defensive miscues.

The Trojans are loaded with capable arms on the mound, led by college-bound starters Jack Donofrio and Brandon White. But they've started the season 1-2 thanks to errors in losses to both Greenwich and Manchester, a problem the team had last season and is hoping to correct.


"We lost to Greenwich because we couldn't play defense," coach Dave Masters said. The team committed eight errors in the loss to the Cardinals. "[Donofrio] was 7-0 as a freshman, but last year we didn't have defense or run support for him."

Donofrio, a junior, has already committed to Notre Dame, where he'll play outfield and pitch. And White is headed to Southern Connecticut next season. Peter Phillips, Aidan Shugrue (who started the Greenwich game and only allowed two hits), Jack McNally and Dylan Leonard are all capable of taking the ball, though.


"With one of those guys, probably because I've got enough starters, it's who becomes a closer for us," Masters said. "Which is really an unusual perk in high school. But they all have experience, which is the best thing."

The team also has experience on the field. Phillips, who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBI in Simsbury's win over Maloney, will see time at first base along with sophomore Luke Benneche, who came on last year as freshman.

McNally returns to his role as starting shortstop, and second baseman Jack Montgomery is back as well. Mason Valentino also returns and should see time at third base, and Tate Valerio returns to the outfield. The big early question for Masters is who will handle catching duties, with three guys vying for playing time, including Justin Heinrich, who served as the backup catcher last season.

New Coach, New Attitude At Somers

Brian McCarthy has been around high school baseball for more than a decade, having served as an assistant, JV and freshman coach at Manchester for 10 years and as a volunteer at Plainville before that. This season he takes over a Somers program that went 7-12 last year.

"We've only played three games but there's a sense they want to be a part of something bigger," McCarthy said. "They're soaking up everything I'm telling them. And trust takes time between player and coach, but they're starting to get a hang of what I'm about, as I am them."

Somers' strength this season comes both on the mound and in the lineup. Thomas Rush, Robert Nadler, Brady Coleman and Caleb Speilman can all contribute on the mound and in the lineup. Coleman hit .415 last season but the Spartans also return a .367 hitter in first baseman Ryan Decker.

We’ve only played three games but there’s a sense they want to be a part of something bigger.

Share quote & link

And while a 15-3 loss to East Windsor in the second game of the season might not reflect that pitching and offensive strength, McCarthy knows that was an important moment for the team.

"Our first game we came out amazing," McCarthy said. "We end up winning 10-2. Then we miss three games for rain, East Windsor comes to play and it was humbling. But you have to embrace the struggle and I can already see the wheels turning, where it is starting to click for these guys."

Quick Hits

Southington's Jason Krar and Bryce Worth combined for a no-hitter in a 5-0 win over Tolland on Wednesday. … Manchester's Dylan Benton has 15 strikeouts, one walk and no runs allowed over seven innings this season. He earned the save in the 6-4 win over Simsbury when he came in with two on and none out in the sixth. … Bristol Eastern's Mac Goulet had a walk-off RBI single against Northwest Catholic and a solo homer in a 4-1 win over New Britain to help the Lancers off to a 3-1 start. … Avon's Will Boone had two home runs and five RBI in a 7-2 win over Enfield. … East Windsor's Jordan Garner had a grand slam in a 15-3 win over Somers. … St. Paul hit four home runs in a 12-7 win over Derby. Julian Thayer had two and Ryan Greene and David Strager each had one. … Old Lyme's Hunter Thornton tossed a complete-game one-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over North Branford. … Prince Tech's Braylin Rivera tossed a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and also hit a home run in a 16-2 win over MLC. … SMSA's Sean Perez pitched a complete-game two-hitter with 10 strikeouts and was 2-for-3 with a home run, double and 2 RBI in a 4-1 win over Somers.

Follow The Courant's coverage of the high school baseball season on Twitter @CTHSSports.