Editor's Note: Correction made for dropped sentence in fourth paragraph.
BENNINGTON -- Sometimes, experience can go a long way in shaping the way a team plays.
For the Mount Anthony Union High School baseball team, the lumps from a 5-12 season a year ago have second-year coach Walt Parmenter hopeful that this season's Patriots team will bounce back a year better and a year stronger.
"We weren't that strong last year. Nothing against the kids, we just weren't very strong," Parmenter said. "A big group of kids had graduated prior to that. We were trying to find our way last year and finding guys to fill in positions. Hopefully, after a year of that, they have grown."
Seniors Matt Upright and Ellis Baker will lead the Patriots' pitching staff after both saw time on the mound last year. While Parmenter did not call either one the ace of the staff, he said that the two are the go-to options for the Patriots. Fellow senior Shelby Coon will catch for both pitchers again this season, while juniors Carson Cushman and Marcus LaFlamme return in the outfield and senior Caleb Noel also returns as a utility fielder for the Patriots. At second base, the Patriots welcome back junior Shea Mooney to help solidify the middle of the infield.
Parmenter will also call on the JV players, who are coming off a solid season last year, to step up into big positions. Sophomore Brody Farnum will see time in the infield and on the mound for MAU, while junior Devin Babson will also get shuffled around the field. Junior Austin Metcalfe will also see some time in the field, and junior Ezra Caron will back up Coon behind the plate and also see some time in the infield.
In the outfield, sophomore Pat Powers will be a "big addition" to the team according to Parmenter, bringing a strong arm and speed on the basepaths to the team.
With the weather playing a factor across the state, the Patriots got onto their infield only this week. Parmenter stressed the importance of fundamentals in the build-up to Friday's home opener.
"The next couple of days it will be a lot of fundamental stuff to get used to being outdoors," Parmenter said. "The only positive things we were able to do [inside] was hit."
Parmenter pointed out the strength of his pitchers as a key to the team's success in 2014.
"I really think our pitching is going to be strong. With the addition of some of the kids off the JV and Matt and Ellis stepping up in their senior year, it should be one of our strong points."
Parmenter also said that he had a fast team on the basepaths. While he noted that the team has to get on base to put the speed to use, he thinks that the team will be able to manufacture runs through their baserunning.
After the team opens on Friday against Mill River, the Patriots will travel to Bellows Falls and Hoosick Falls during the vacation week. The team will play Berkshire County foes Monument Mountain and Mt. Greylock in non-league contests, and will end the season on May 29 against Brattleboro.