Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth baseball head coach Dan Simonds, standing, speaks with his team as they stretch while warming up for practice Monday.
By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
BROADALBIN -- The Broadalbin-Perth baseball team has been cooped up inside a gymnasium long enough.
"We've got spring fever right now," Patriots senior catcher Tim Gordon said during yet another indoor practice Monday afternoon. "We want to get out there, get out on the field, get some swings, get a visual of what the field looks like so we can get ready. It's hot in here, the ball's getting ripped at us."
Though some of the Patriots got outside in the cold weather Monday -- head coach Dan Simonds took his outfielders into the parking lot to get some work in tracking down fly balls -- a thick layer of snow on their field has kept the team inside for the bulk of preseason workouts.
"We almost had our field cleared, we were practicing on the turf [football field] everyday, getting used to being outside," said senior shortstop and pitcher Anthony Visco. "It just sucks we had the snow come in. We have over a foot of snow on our field. It's bringing us back inside and ruining our practice time."
That means Wednesday's scrimmage at Taconic Hills -- despite the 90-minute bus ride -- should be a welcome relief.
"It'll be a rough bus ride, but it'll be great just to get out there -- finally," Gordon said.
The scrimmage represents Simonds' first chance to see a Patriots team that returns seven starters from a year ago in action before B-P is scheduled to open the season April 5 at Mayfield.
After closing last year's 7-15 season strong with a run to the Section II Class B quarterfinals after scrambling late in the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, the Patriots feel they can ride that momentum into 2013.
"If we start out like we ended last year, we should be in good shape," said junior infielder Joe Zarecki. "There's no reason why there's any team out there that should beat us. We're a good group and we're confident."
For the Patriots to be successful, Simonds said, much of the burden will fall on Visco, the team's top returning pitcher and hitter. After posting a .314 batting average at the plate and a 2.99 earned run average in 43 1-3 innings on the mound in 2012, Visco will be looked on as B-P's top starting pitcher, regular shortstop and the No. 3 hitter in the lineup.
"Anthony's gonna be one of the guys we lean on a lot this year," Simonds said. "He's the only guy returning who hit over .300 last year, so it's exciting for us to have him back. We're going to miss him after he graduates -- he does everything the right way."
Visco, his younger brother Mike, Zarecki and senior Patrick Brown will carry the bulk of the pitching load for B-P, with Gordon returning as an experienced backstop behind the plate. In all, the Patriots return 10 players with at least one year of varsity experience -- including the interesting case of senior utility man A.J. Klemczak, who impressed when brought up to the varsity team as a freshman in 2010, but spent the last two seasons away from baseball while focusing on his role with the B-P soccer team.
"Now he's a senior, he decided to come back to the team and already he's turning some heads with what he can do," Simonds said.
Once they finally get out on an actual baseball diamond -- and once the snow finally melts away from B-P's home field on the far edge of the B-P High School property -- the Patriots believe they've got the pieces in place to contend in the Foothills Council and avoid the need for a last-gasp rally to reach sectionals.
"We're really pitcher-powerful," Zarecki said. "We've got a good lineup, and we've got 14 kids who could start every day."