Follow the entire Hudson Valley baseball season on Twitter: @MSGVarsityKDJ
Walter Panas (Anthony Fata, 12th Year)
Last Season: (15-5)
C: Anthony Iannuzzi, Jr.
1B: Jacob Vasquez, Jr. (Chris Dahl, Jr.)
2B: Kevin Reynoso, Sr. (Brian Holderman, Jr., Dan O’Gorman, Sr., John Moschetti, Jr.)
3B: Brandon Cohall, Sr. (Brendan Gallagher, Sr., Pat Rucci, Jr.)
SS: Zach Preuss, Sr.
LF:Tino Dipateri, Sr.
CF: Tom Parish, So.
RF: Tim McCauley, So.
Top Pitcher: Brandon Cohall. Senior threw a no-hitter last year against Brewster.
Coach’s outlook: “If our youth can step up and hit and I get those guys back (Preuss, Cohall and Reynoso), we’re going to be a nice little competitive team,” Panas coach Anthony Fata said. “If it takes the youth a while to get acclimated to the varsity level, it might be a long season to start out. But I’m still excited to see what the youth can do. We’ve got to learn fast.I always like to set the goal of make the playoffs and see what happens. At this stage of the game, we just want to get better every day. That’s our goal, to be better than the day before.”
Youth being “thrown into the fire” at Walter Panas
Starting the season without three of your top players is something no team would ever want to endure. But that’s the situation the Walter Panas baseball team could be finding itself in this year.
Senior captains Zach Preuss, Brandon Cohall and Kevin Reynoso are all out right now and it is uncertain when they will return. Preuss and Reynoso comprise the middle infield, while Cohall was their ace last season and played third base. The trio was expected to hit in the heart of the batting order. All three will be playing in college with Preuss going to Southern New Hampshire, Cohall headed for RIT and Reynoso playing at Oswego.
Cohall had a stellar junior season where he received all-section honors. The right-hander went 6-1 with a 0.78 ERA and tossed a no hitter against Brewster. Preuss, a shortstop who batted .348 last year, suffered an injury to his throwing hand during basketball season. Reynoso played second base and batted .425 last year. He was the projected No. 2 starter heading into this season.
“You can sit back and be depressed all you want, but right now I’m going to pull up the youth,” said Fata, whose squad garnered a No. 5 seed in the Section 1 Class A playoffs last year but lost 7-3 to No. 21 Port Chester in the first round. “I’m hoping we can stay competitive and keep the boat afloat until these guys come back. When these guys do get back hopefully we can make a run for the playoffs.”
Brendan Gallagher will be counted on to hold down the fort on the mound with the top two starters sidelined. With Preuss out, he will start at shortstop and should bat second or third.
Speedy sophomore Tom Parish, who missed most of last season due to injury, is expected to have a big year as the starting center fielder. He’ll also set the table as the leadoff hitter. Another sophomore with quickness, Tim McCauley, will start in right field. Left-hander Tino Dipaterio, a senior, will play left field.
Anthony Iannuzzi, a junior newcomer, will start behind the plate. Junior Pat Rucci will see time at third base and on the mound. He should provide the team with some power at the plate. Juniors Chris Dahl and Jacob Vasquez are battling over the first base spot. Both players can pitch, too.
Brian Holderman, a junior, will be used as a utility player. He can play shortstop, second base or outfield. With Reynoso out, the second base spot is up for grabs between Holderman, senior Dan O’Gorman and junior John Moschetti.
Fata thinks youth and speed will be the main strengths of the team. He also likes their defense and the fact that they have a wealth of arms.
“When you’ve got young kids that are willing to get dirty, dive and do all the little things that it’s going to take to win games, I get excited for that,” Fata said. “I love the speed in our outfield. And if I can get Reynoso and Preuss back up the middle, that’s probably one of the best middle infields in our league.”
Panas is in a difficult league with rival Lakeland and Kennedy Catholic. They also have a grueling non-league schedule with the likes of John Jay-East Fishkill, Ketcham, Arlington, John Jay-Cross River, Somers and Mahopac.
“I was never one of those coaches where I’m going to complain about the schedule,” Fata said. “It’s going to be, ‘throw you into the fire and see what you can do.’ I don’t mind being the underdog. It’s going to be like that all year.”
Follow Rob DiAntonio on Twitter: @MSGV_RJD