Looking at the roster that Springfield worked from for the second half of the season, the eye is drawn to the bottom of the piece of paper. Beneath the Excel spreadsheet, three names are scrawled in the handwriting of coach Jeff Smith: Jim Reardon, Joe Walsh and Brett Sheeran.
It is on the back of those three, two sophomores and a freshman, that Smith has reason to believe that the Cougars’ future is bright.
Despite a 6-13 season, Smith can see light at the end of a tunnel of disappointing seasons, an optimism fueled by a very talented freshman class that Smith is hopeful will mature in the coming years.
The Cougars will certainly need to replace bodies, none more noteworthy than All-Delco shortstop Joe Sheeran. But even Sheeran wasn’t up to his 2012 best, still hitting a respectable .390 despite missing three games due to concussion.
Other defections from an under-producing lineup include first baseman and co-captain Chris Ganley, outfielder Jake Brown, Tyler DiMatteo and Tyler O’Shea. Gone also is nominal staff ace John O’Doherty, who was better on the mound than his 1-8 record indicated this season.
The pieces that return, on paper at least, outweigh what is lost. Larry Greenwich, the lead-off man most of the year, will return in centerfield. Adam Krauter gained valuable experience behind the plate as a sophomore. And Ryan Joyce is a hard-thrower who won three games as a junior and is poised to take a big step toward leading the rotation.
Then there are those young guys. Reardon stepped in midseason and picked up two wins and a loss, the latter due to one unearned run in four innings of relief in a 10-inning loss to Episcopal Academy. Walsh strung together a few solid outings, deserving of wins again Episcopal and Interboro. And there’s the freshman Sheeran, who managed as many extra-base hits (four, all doubles) as his older brother while forcing his way into the two-hole in the lineup.
The framework is there, and if the Cougars can get immediate contributions from a slew of players prospering on JV this season, they could finally shake their sub-.500 doldrums.