Mashpee High School never really seems to rebuild when it comes to baseball. Dan Patenaude has been able to reload time and again throughout his tenure as the Falcons’ head coach.
No, the cupboard is not bare. It just might not be quite as full as it has been over the past few seasons. Last year’s senior class set the school record for most wins in a four-year stretch as that group combined to go 79-19 from the springs of 2015 to 2018. Over that run of excellence the Falcons never posted fewer than 18 wins in a year.
“What this year’s team has is opportunities,” coach Patenaude said. “Last year we had only three returning starters, we had three seniors that had not played a lot of varsity, and they made the all-star team.”
One thing that the Falcons seem to have in spades is smarts. Patenaude has some of the top students the senior, junior and sophomore classes, including this year’s valedictorian. He said that his best teams over the years have been the smarter ones, and this year’s team certainly could be one of his brightest collectives.
“All of my successful teams I’ve had have had intelligent kids on them,” he said. “This year’s team is no exception...I have to end practice early on (March 28) because we have six players that have to leave a little early for the National Honor Society inductions.”
Leading the charge for the Falcons will be all-star Kyle Puchol in center field. The speedy left-handed hitter can spray the ball all over the field and is an on-base machine. Once he reaches he likes to take up real estate between the pitcher’s ears as his activity on the base paths creates opportunities for the men at the plate and can force the opposing hurlers to make mistakes.
Puchol, who is one of the National Honor Society inductees, is a player the rest will follow. “He’s really become a great leader both on and off the field,” Patenaude said.
Willie Baker, a sophomore, looks to be the starting left fielder. Baker is just coming into his own as a player and has the tools to be an all-star. The two sport varsity athlete also has speed on the bases and can hit for power and average. He will likely be at the top of the order and serve as a table-setter for the Falcons.
Baker will be a regular on the mound as well. A new spot for the sophomore, Patenaude said that Baker is transitioning from throwing on the mound to pitching and has the stuff to be a producer from that spot.
In right John Clifford, a senior, hopes to make the most of his opportunity to see more playing time. Clifford has already shown a knack for playing the tough right field sun at MHS.
In the infield, the senior class valedictorian will be at first base. Nick Storey has worked hard to improve each year and he hopes his first full-time season as a starter will be nearly as good as his grades. “Nick has improved every year,” Patenaude said.
Eighth grader Colton Colleran is at second base. The youngster saw some pinch-running duty last year and certainly has the glove to field his spot. He will also see a lot of time on the mound. While he is not going to overpower hitters just yet, Patenaude said that he is around the plate and battles. “One thing is that Colton is not going to be intimidated out there,” the coach said. “He throws well.”
Zach Rogers and Jagger Bryant will both see time at short. Rogers, a junior, is a middle of the order hitter and will be one of the top pitchers for the team. The same can be said for Bryant, a sophomore, who served as a hitter only last year with the JV team because of arm issues. The right-hander has good stuff and throws from a tough arm slot. Bryant can also play third.
Newcomer Peter Gonzalez takes over at third base. Gonzalez moved to town from Kentucky and has been adopted quickly by his new baseball family. “The kids love him,” Pateanaude said. They also love that Gonzalez can handle the hot corner well and “does not get cheated at the plate.”
Behind the plate, Jared Barr is back for his second season. Barr was thrown right into the fire last year as a freshman varsity backstop and handled himself well. He’s continued to work on his game and should be even better. He figures to be in the middle of the batting order and should drive in his share of runs.
Casey Fitzgerald and Nathan Mills will both serve as backups for the team. The pair can also see time with the junior varsity so that they get steady reps this season.
The new season begins for the Falcons on April 4. The team visits Hull High School in the season-opener.