090402 NC_baseball

Niagara Falls, NY - Niagara Catholic's Mike Volpe warms up before leaving for a scrimmage on Thursday.

Sam Pericelli knows he has the makings of a solid squad.

Apparently, opposing coaches agree.

“My players told me that the Canisius coaches were already warning their guys to not take us lightly,” Pericelli said recently. “That’s a big compliment.”

The Patriots are worthy of the praise, though, as they return a large nucleus from a year ago. NC’s pitching staff, which includes sophomore Cam Carney along with seniors Rob Swartz, Mike Volpe, Chris Glowacki and Josh Puzan, will be the strength of the team, according to Pericelli.

“They’re all pretty consistent and have good command of all of their pitches,” the coach said.

“We’re going to make people put the ball in play because we all throw strikes consistently,” Puzan added.

That type of approach could work wonders in the wood-bat Monsignor Martin Athletic Association. The MMAA annually plays low-scoring games and relies heavily on pitching and defense.

“We will have to manufacture runs with steals, bunts and hit-and-run situations,” Pericelli said. “That big three-run homer isn’t going to happen. We’ll have to rely on our speed to get around the bases. We have to catch the ball better, too.”

With a roster of only 12 players, many of the Patriots will be playing multiple positions this spring. When not pitching, Carney, Volpe, Swartz and Puzan will rotate between first base, shortstop, center field or right field, Pericelli said. Glowacki will play third.

Sophomore Ben Webb will handle the bulk of the catching duties with Dan Bax set to play second and Jeff Hare slated to play left field. All three were reserves last season and didn’t see much playing time, Pericelli said. Rounding out the roster is Brian Brantigan, King Fatunmbi, Zack Poreda and Munir Frank.

“If our three new guys come up big, we’re going to surprise a lot of people and win a lot of games,” Pericelli said.

“I’m excited for this season,” Glowacki added. “There’s a lot of anticipation because we’re expecting big things from ourselves. Anything is possible with this team.”