Baldwinsville The saying typically goes that X marks the spot. But when the Section III baseball season kicks off this week, the X will actually be a red B for Baldwinsville.
Coming off its first Section III Class AA title since 2004, the Bees know that last season’s success could be this year’s biggest hurdle.
“There are teams that are going to be gunning for us,” head coach Dave Penafeather said. “That's our first time feeling that—we didn't feel it last year.”
Beyond the local championship, last year’s team put together the best season in Baldwinsville baseball history with a 20-4 record and a run to the Class AA state semifinals, where it lost an emotional 5-4 game to defending state champion Victor.
Though Penafeather was happy to make it that far into the playoffs, it highlighted the importance of the departing seniors to the Bees’ accomplishments.
“My takeaway was sadness because of the couple of seniors that we had that really had put a lot into the game and took our team to the next level,” Penafeather said.
The current roster has the tough task of plugging holes left by co-players of the year and the left side of the infield in shortstop Brett Charbonneau and third baseman Connor Martin.
Penafeather harbors no doubt that their respective replacements, seniors Josh Savacool moving from second base and Zach Leo from left field, will transition into those roles seamlessly.
“We've got a good healthy core of returners and we've talked about each of them stepping up in certain areas to cover what we're missing,” he said.
Gone too are first baseman George Hughes and pitcher Scott Orr, whose 75-pitch gem led the Bees to victory over Columbia in the regional final.
Gabe Levanti, starting catcher all four years, said that although the team has reloaded stronger, he and the other seniors have not forgotten the examples set by those players.