MANCHESTER >> It was a program-building season for the Burr and Burton baseball team in 2016.
The Bulldogs accomplished a lot under first year coach Ed Lewicki, finishing the season with a record of 16-4 and reaching the finals of the Division I tournament for the first time in school history.
It was also the only time that a team from BBA played in a Division I final in a team sport.
"The season was amazing," Lewicki said. "We got off to a hot start and the after we stumbled a bit in the middle, we were able to get on a run that led to competing in for the first time ever in the finals of the Division I tournament. Just a great season for this program to have going forward and one that I was glad to be a part of."
The season didn't end the way the Bulldogs would have liked, losing 3-1 to St. Johnsbury and missing out on winning a state championship, but the success of this year has really been motivation for the players coming back next season.
Since losing in the finals, Lewicki said the guys are committed and determined to get back.
"I have seen guys posting things [on social media] about 'Let's get back to the finals next season since we lost and I think that just shows how competitive these guys are," Lewicki said. "They have set the bar for themselves to be back in the finals next year and are determined to do so. As a coach, that is great to see."
There is no doubt that BBA will have a chance to make it back as they return seven of their nine starters from 2016 back next fall, including their top four hitters — Tyler Kraehling, Griff Stalcup, James Reilly and Daniel Hatheway.
Pitching will continue to be a strength for BBA too as Jay McCoy will be back after a great sophomore season that saw him beat Champlain Valley and BFA St. Albans in the Bulldogs' playoff run to the finals.
Sam Cottrell will give BBA a nice 1-2 punch in the pitching rotation, giving the Bulldogs solid innings from the mound this past season.
Both Cottrell and McCoy after hitting better than .300 this year.
Starting catcher William Palmer returns, followed by Chandler Pouk and Cooper Weir who will see their rolls on the team increase after great success off the bench for the Bulldogs in 2016.
"We have a lot of our guys coming back next year and we will have a lot of talent up and down our roster too," Lewicki said. "With as deep of team that we potentially have next year, we could be able to be a better team then we were this season."
This season's success has also been felt in the Manchester community.
Many supporters from the community followed BBA throughout their playoff run — the crowd was terrific at the final at Centennial Field — and baseball as a sport has grown with the Manchester Little League having its largest tryout turnout in recent memory.
"It was great to see the support we got from the community during our playoff run," Lewicki said. "To have a lot of fans travel to CVU, BFA and Burlington to see us play was just remarkable to see and I thank all them for doing so. I really think our season gave more momentum in the community and seeing it grow is great to see."
With the future bright and coming off a historic season, the BBA baseball program will have a lot to look forward to.
"I am really looking forward to seeing how far this program can grow in the future," Lewicki said. "We have a lot of guys on our team that have ability to be great players and go on to have great success at the college level too. It will be fun to see what happens."