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BASEBALL: Dear Santa, the boys would love a little Christmas in springtime

BASEBALL: Dear Santa, the boys would love a little Christmas in springtime

MERIDEN — Platt baseball coach Tim Redican said he felt like Santa Claus when he delivered the new Platt baseball gear to his players this week.

It’s one of the few acts he’s been able to do for his baseball team this spring.

“I didn’t get to see the guys, but I was happy to drop that off for them,” Redican said.

Redican and all area baseball coaches have been apart from their players since schools closed last month due to the coronavirus and spring sports were indefinitely suspended.

Schools were locked up a day before pitchers and catchers were supposed to have their first workout last week. With schools still closed until at least April 20, everyone is just waiting to see if and when they will take the diamond this spring.

The CIAC reiterated late Thursday that it will continue to take wait-and-see approach that will be shaped by directives from Gov. Ned Lamont and the state.

Until then, the diamonds are empty.

There was high expectations for Redican’s Platt Panthers this season. A big junior class was coming back and about a dozen seniors are on the roster.

“The kids would be happy to have a season at this point,” Redican said. “The kids would still be happy to have any season at this point.”

Redican said many of his players were going to indoor facilities in the offseason. He said many of his players are still throwing and swinging a bat every day.

Platt currently has three players in line to play in college next year. Jack Clancy will be a preferred walk-on at Central Connecticut State University. Andrew McCarty will be off to Springfield College. Aaron Nieves is heading to Eastern Connecticut.

“All three have an absolute passion for the game,” Redican said. “For all three, this is their only sport. They love it and being involved in it. I am looking forward to exciting seasons for all three of them.”

Across town at Maloney, the Spartans graduated just one regular — a good one, in Elliot Good, who is now at CCSU — but are bringing back five seniors.

“The kids have put in a ton of effort,” Maloney coach Ricky Marrero said. “I couldn’t be prouder for the effort that they’ve put in. It stinks that we are stuck in this situation right now. I don’t know what to say to them other than stay safe. It’s just rough right now.”

Marrero said he and his players communicate digitally. He gives tips and suggests drills.

“It’s weird right now,” Marrero said. “I wish we could do more, but we really can’t.”

The five returning seniors are Owen Papciak, Ethan Brazel, Antonio Martinez, Michael Duffy and Julian Abranhante. Papciak will pitch next year at Division II Post University.

Maloney was also returning seven juniors.

“It’s a shame we aren’t playing because we were primed for a big year,” Marrero said. “But there’s always hope. Just like the rest of the world, we have to sit back and wait.”

Like Marrero, his former teammate at Platt, Billy Rich is waiting to start his second year as head coach at Lyman Hall.

“Right now, like all teams, everyone is just sitting still,” Rich said. “Everything is held up and, as long as we aren’t in school, all of us are focusing on academics and holding out hope that we can get a partial season in.

Rich said he sent a few emails to his players telling them to stay in shape and focus on school work.

“My team worked extremely hard since January, four or five days a week of strength and conditioning,” Rich said. “A lot of players put in a lot of time and energy to make themselves better baseball players. I’m just encouraging them to stay positive, stay in shape and be ready for anything.”

The Trojans have a junior-heavy team. Rich planned on working in a good amount of new players this spring to gain some valuable experience.

“We would love to have any season,” Rich said. “A 10- or 12-game season would be phenomenal. Everyone would be elated. But for now, they are students first. Baseball has been taken away for now, but school continues and that’s the priority.”

In Southington, the Blue Knights carry the highest of expectations. Class LL runners-up a year ago, the Blue Knights are returning the bulk of their nucleus.

Head coach Charlie Lembo is still in touch with his guys on a regular basis. He still fills out his practice plan every day as if the season was going on.

“We were supposed to have scrimmages against North Haven and Cheshire already and we were going to scrimmage Bristol Central today,” Lembo said Thursday morning. “In about an hour, I’m going to write who would be pitching, just to keep some type of normalcy.

“I tell the kids I write the practice plan every day and that they have done every drill perfectly. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Lembo stops short of writing a lineup card.

“I plot where guys would be playing,” he said. “I try to send the guys baseball trivia to keep their minds on baseball. We can all focus on the worst-case scenario, but that’s not what I want the guys to focus on right now.”

Lembo said he checks in with his guys and makes sure they are getting their school work done.

“I want them to stay safe,” Lembo said. “I want them to get something accomplished every day as well as doing their school work and staying in shape. I want to make sure they are OK mentally.

“We all know this is tough on the seniors, but it’s also tough on the juniors and sophomores as well. I want them to know if they have any questions or concerns they can always reach out to me. Baseball is a great sport. We all love it. But it’s not the most important thing right now.”