WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles Academy moves up to Division I this season after winning the last two Division II state championships.
The Mounties go there knowing full well the challenge that awaits them, head coach Tom Seaver was saying on Monday night while contemplating this question:
“What’s the difference between Division I and II?”
Seaver weighs the query for a moment and then quickly responds.
“It starts with the pitching,” he admits. “Pitching and defense. A lot of balls that are base hits in Division II are outs in Division I. The infielders make more plays on hard-hit balls in Division I. We’re looking forward to some high quality baseball. We know the schedule is going to be tough.”
The Mounties, who return six starters from last year’s 17-1 club, open their season next Tuesday afternoon against St. Raphael Academy at Vets Park in Pawtucket. The Saints are coming off a 7-11 season in 2010, a rare under-.500 showing for coach Tom Sorrentine’s perennial playoff contenders.
“It’s a good test for us right off the bat,” Seaver says. “We know Coach ‘Saar’ is one of the top coaches in the state. His teams always play hard. I think one of the adjustments for us will be learning the new league. I know most of the coaches but it will take a while for us to get to know the players in Division I.”
The Mounties’ cast of players is well-known. Seaver, who is a stickler for detail, begins a conversation about his roster by leading off with his four co-captains.
“Mike Magerman, Tim Doyle, Derek Deschene and Garrett Hayward are our four captains,” the coach says. “Magerman is our shortstop. Doyle plays centerfield. Deschene returns to catch and Garrett Hayward is our No. 1 pitcher and will play the outfield when he’s not pitching.”
Seaver pauses for a moment.
“We’re trying to build a team that is strong up the middle,” the coach adds. “Those four guys led us to a lot of wins (32) over the past two seasons. Now they will be leading us into Division I.”
Three seniors back up those co-captains. Collins Utterman is the No. 2 starting pitcher and a candidate to start in the outfield when he’s not pitching. Classmates Danny O’Brien and Trevor Plante are also battling for outfield jobs.
Two juniors provide leadership at the plate and in the infield.
“Tyler Geffert will play third base and bat cleanup for us,” Seaver says, pointing out the slugger who delivered the game-winning hit in the state title game as a freshman and followed up with a strong sophomore season.
Campbell, who plays second base, batted leadoff last season. The speedy lefthanded hitter will bat third this season.
Another junior, Taylor Sutherland, will be the No. 3 pitcher while also seeing playing time at first base and the outfield. Classmate Matt LaButti will do some pitching. Ryan Simoneau is slated for duty as a reserve pitcher and first baseman.
Seaver thinks his pitching staff has enough talent and experience to succeed at the D-I level. Hayward, a 6-foot-6 lefthander, went 10-0 last season. His older brother Vaughn is a sophomore pitcher at Holy Cross University. Garrett could end up pitching in the Ivy League.
“The youngest Hayward brother, Nolan, is a freshman in our program this season,” Seaver says.
Seaver, always thorough, wants to mention three more young players.
“Sophomore Dan Glaud is a pitcher/outfielder,” the coach says. “And we have two good freshmen. Chris Miele is a catcher and Nolan Hayward is an outfielder.”
Seaver gets able assistance from fellow Mount coaches Paul Jacques and Jay Frietas. The Mounties appear deep in talent, not only among their players but also the coaching staff.
“We know what we are getting into,” Seaver says, talking about the transition to Division I that everyone knew was coming after the Mounties won their second straight D-II title. “But I want to mention one more thing. We have not looked good in our two scrimmages that we played outdoors. The weather has kept us inside the gym on a lot of days. We need to get outside and get our work in.”