Young, confident SVC ready to compete for NECC title


BENNINGTON >> Record-breaking warmth made for a beautiful day on Wednesday around the area for people to enjoy being outside.

Also loving the rare March weather was the Southern Vermont College baseball team, who took full advantage of the nice weather to play an intersquad scrimmage to prepare for its trip to Arizona this week to participate in the Tucson Invitational tournament.

"I can't remember the last time in my four years that we were practicing outside in 70 degree weather in early March," said SVC senior shortstop RJ Pingitore. "The good weather we have had to start the season I think has really helped our team improve quicker because we have been getting more opportunities to practice on the field, instead of practicing most of [February and March] in the gym."

The beginning of the season has shown some promise for the Mountaineers.

After a tough 0-3 start, the Mountaineers have won three straight games to get back to .500 and are starting to click.

"Things are starting to come along well for guys on the field," said fourth year head coach Dave Gage. "We're a young team, so some of the younger guys on the team needed time to adjust to playing at the college level, but right now everybody is playing well and we're hoping to build on that the rest of the season."

Pitching has been a big factor early in the year and they've been led so far by junior right hander Dylan Angelo.

Angelo is off to a great start to the 2016 season, going 2-1 with 2.53 ERA and in his past two starts, Angelo has pitched consecutive complete game shutouts, making him the only pitcher in SVC history to do so.

"It feels good to be able to help the team out and get the season started off well," Angelo said. "I have been able to use all four of my pitches well early on in the season, so I want to continue to that and help keep fun the teams been having going."

For the Mountaineers' bats, Pingitore will be one of the leaders for the offense this year.

Coming off a great junior season where he batted better than .300 for the second year in a row, the senior will again be looked upon to get on base and drive in runs for the Mountaineers.

"I am just going to give 100 percent effort every time I get on the field," Pingitore said. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help the team win. That could be stealing bases, getting on base, knocking runs in or making plays at shortstop. I just want to help make things happen for the team."

Pingitore will also be important off the field, as he will serve as a captain for SVC this season, something he has taken to heart since the season began.

"Being a captain this year, I have really made it a point to take the younger guys under my wing and lead them the right way," Pingitore said. "I really want to keep the great team chemistry we have been having to start the season and get us to grow more close as a team by the end of the season because I know that teams that are close knit have a better chance of winning then those who aren't."

Gage said they have grown closer as a team and are building up confidence, something that's important if they want to reach the goals they set for themselves, including competing for a New England Collegiate Conference championship. If they can continue to improve, Gage said he feels a title is possible.

"Our goal is to win the conference and to do that, we know we're going to have to get better everyday throughout the season," Gage said. "In these last three games that we have won, guys have improved and things are starting to click for us. If the guys can continue to improve like they have been and we can keep playing with the same great energy and confidence game in and game out, we're going to give ourselves the best chance of competing for a conference title."

Their first of six games in the tournament will be against Ashford (Ind.) on Saturday at 5 p.m.


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