Seven starters and 22 players overall from Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s baseball program return the diamond this season for fifth-year head coach Mike Kelley.
The Bucs are coming off an 11-27 campaign in which they went 8-13 in MASCAC play and fell one spot shy of qualifying for the postseason. Senior outfielder Nick Haley brings back his team-leading four homers and 20 RBI and while first baseman Angus McNeill and Jackson Simone return their team-best batting averages of .341 and .333, respectively.
Other returning players from last year’s lineup include junior Dylan Sullo (.286/2 HR/16 RBI), and Chris McHugh (.286/1 HR/7 RBI).
As for the Bucs’ rotation, right-hander John Teehan and lefty Mason Ashburn return to anchor the pitching staff for MMA. Teehan, a Dedham native, had himself a memorable summer between collegiate seasons, getting an opportunity to join up with the Cape League’s Harwich Mariners. He made the most of his one start on the Cape hurling five shutout innings and allowing just one hit while fanning five against Brewster.
Four local players—Falmouth’s Chris Perito and Sandwich’s John Tropea, Zach Landry and Josh Kutcher—all made the Bucs’ roster as freshman after starring with the Post 188 American Legion team.
MMA opens the season Saturday, February 29 against Wilkes in Fort Pierce, Florida for the Bucs’ annual trip down south. The Bucs return for their home opener at Hendy Field on Thursday, March 12 against Rivier with a 4 PM first pitch. They open MASCAC play a few weeks later at home on March 27 against Salem State.
Women’s Lax Ready To Compete
After a banner season for the women’s lacrosse program, the Bucs will be looking to build off that foundation in 2020. MMA finished last year with a record of 9-8, its first winning season in program history, and returns 15 players who had a key role in the team’s success.
Casey Sullivan, a Sagamore Beach native, comes back for her junior season after posting two-straight 50-goal seasons for the Bucs. Last year she finished with 52 goals and 23 assists. Anna Deely, a Barnstable native who is also a team captain with Sullivan, returns after putting together 40 goals, nine assists and a team-high 67 ground balls. Deely is also MMA’s top draw control specialist, winning a conference-high 116 draws while causing a conference-high in turnovers caused on defense (35).
The team’s third captain is Cammi Balentine, who finished last year with 28 goals and 14 assists. Sophomore Alyssa Blumenthal tied with Sullivan for fourth in the MASCAC in assists, as she tallied 23 to go with 31 goals.
Defensively, Bourne’s Amanda Gould caused 25 turnovers and recovered 36 ground balls last season.
“Last season was the best so far for this program, but the work doesn’t stop there,” MMA head coach Marc Palombo told the Bucs’ athletics department. “We have a foundation of young and talented players to build upon.”
MMA begins the season at Clean Harbors Stadium Saturday, February 29 at Anna Maria at noon. Their first conference home game comes on Saturday, March 28 against Fitchburg State.
Men’s Lacrosse Enters 2020 In New League
With a new decade comes a brand new league for the men’s lacrosse program. The Bucs went 1-6 in the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), and 7-8 overall, but all of that is in the past with MMA joining the Little East Conference in 2020 with other local schools like UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston.
And the LEC has already taken notice of the new team on the block, picking MMA to finish fifth and qualify for postseason play in the conference’s preseason poll.
“Coming out of the NEWMAC and into a very competitive Little East Conference is great for our program,” head coach Rick Bagby said. “We are looking forward to playing against good opponents and having a successful season in a conference we know we can compete in right away.”
In total, 27 players returned from last year and are joined by 20 newcomers—15 of whom are freshman. Bourne native Ben Avakian joins Tommy Modula and Dartmouth’s Sean Smialek as the team’s captains in 2020. Avakian was MMA’s top goal scorer from a year ago, totaling 48 goals, while Modula and Smialek are defensive mainstays in the midfield.
Gone from the team are Ted Powers, whose 33 goals were second on the team, and goalkeeper Michael Dolan, a three-year starter for MMA. Alexandre Lucas and Spencer Jones will attempt to fill the scoring void left by Powers, as the two combined for 46 goals last year. Senior Matthew Pierson, with 12 career appearances between the pipes, will take on the starting goalie role this spring.
Speaking of combinations, the pairing of senior Michael Sharry and Colby Unterstein will look to dominate the face-off circle this season after winning 48.3 percent and 47.4 percent of draws, respectively.
The Bucs open their home schedule at Clean Harbors Stadium on Wednesday, March 11 against Norwich at 5 PM. MMA’s first conference home game will come 10 days later on Saturday, March 21 against Plymouth State at 5 PM.
Information and quotes provided by MMA sports information director Joseph Malkin.