The Twin Valley varsity baseball team has every reason to feel good. There is a returning core of veteran players and coaches to go with an influx of new talent.
Coach Jim Burke takes over the reins of the team this season. Burke has spent the past two seasons working with Cliff Duncan. Joining Burke on the coaching staff is veteran coach George Molner, who coached varsity baseball at Wilmington High School before the Twin Valley merger.
Now Burke and Molner take over a team with lots of returning talent and a strong group of freshmen who’ve moved up from Twin Valley Middle School.
With six seniors and 15 underclassmen, Burke and Molner are stressing two key areas, upperclassman leadership and fundamentals. Last year’s team went 7-9 in the regular season, then ended the year with an ugly 19-7 home loss to lower-seeded Whitcomb in the first round of the state tournament. Burke and Molner hope to use that loss as a teaching tool for this year’s team.
“We want to overcome mental mistakes,” said Burke. “The fundamentals need to be second nature to the team.” Burke likes what he sees in the players, citing many of the seniors and some of the newcomers as leaders of the team.
Molner echoed Burke’s emphasis on fundamentals, and added his own take on the game. “Players have to be mentally tough to overcome the mistakes that happen.” Molner said he will work with players on fundamentals as well, such as good infield throws. “You can’t rush those throws, especially to first base. Too many kids hurry their throws, and that’s when problems happen.”
Both coaches said they plan to play an aggressive, running brand of ball. “High school ball is not conservative,” said Burke. He hopes the team can exploit the same types of mistakes in opposing teams that Twin Valley coaches want to minimize.
The team’s top pitcher, senior George Molner III, had his season cut short last year with an arm injury that required “Tommy John” reconstructive elbow surgery. His ongoing recovery will keep him off the mound again this season, but he has been medically cleared to hit, and will serve as a player-coach, working with the pitching staff. Senior Gus Wing is also medically ineligible, and it remains to be seen whether he will play this year or not.
Other players include: seniors Ian Murdock, Tony Bernard, Nick Birch, Joe Moore, Ryan Bernard, John Hescock, and David Dumaine; juniors Trey Cunningham and Ricardo Pereira; sophomores Patrick Eilers, Jason Moore, Yonwok Choi, and Hunter Therrien; and freshmen Colin Lozito, Dal Nesbitt, Cade Nesbitt, Jeremy Hunt, Nick Goodnow, Craig Green, and Dylan Johnson.
There will also be a handful of junior varsity games. According to Burke, in those games the underclassmen will see more playing time.
Many of the upperclassmen will be called upon to help Burke and Molner with the coaching duties
Both coaches said positions are not set yet, and they are hoping to get the team outside for some practice prior to their first game at Arlington on Wednesday. “We may have to go to Brattleboro and find a park, but we need to get outside,” said Molner, who only half jokingly said the Twin Valley field could still be under snow for the home opener on April 25.
Home games will be played at Baker Field. Games start at 4:30 pm unless noted.
All dates are subject to change. For an updated schedule visit www.digitalsports.com and search Twin Valley High School.
Twin Valley baseball schedule:
April 25 Black River
April 29 Poultney
May 3 Mount Everett
May 5 Leland & Gray
May 6 JV Leland & Gray
May 11 Green Mountain
May 14 West Rutland, 11 am
May 19 JV Burr & Burton
May 24 Arlington
May 27 Proctor
April 6 @Arlington
April 8 @West Rutland
April 9 @Mount Everett, 11am
April 13 @Black River
April 15 @Leland & Gray
April 27 @Green Mountain
May 10 JV @Leland & Gray,4pm
May 17 @Poultney
May 27 JV @ Burr & Burton