The Mineola Mustangs are coming off a strong 2014 campaign that was “three years in the making,” according to Head Coach Helms Bohringer.
“They did everything they were supposed to do from a work ethic standpoint,” said Bohringer, who was a 37th round MLB draft pick out of Adelphi in 1989. “They believed that they could win and sometimes that a tough thing when you came up as sophomores and you’re losing.”
Those years of experience, combined with an abundance of talent, allowed the Mustangs to compile a 14-7 record and qualify for a playoff berth. Unfortunately, they were defeated by Lynbrook and Hewlett in the playoffs in the double-elimination tournament.
Having lost four of their seniors graduate and move onto college ball—Vinny Bienieck, John Lusardi, Nick Iadevaio and Ryan Kelly, the Mustangs will be faced with a tall order of replacing that level of talent. Bohringer is confident his team will be able to respond to the challenge.
“We hope to continue off the success of last year,” he said. “We have six seniors that know what it takes to contend.”
Bohringer understands it will be difficult replacing his three graduating starting pitchers. The current roster accounted for only 15 innings pitched last season.
The current starting rotation is projected to be James Wierczyki, Steven DePalma and Nick Brown. All three of those pitchers were on the varsity team last season and pitched out of the bullpen. They will also be counting on pitchers that moved up from junior varsity in Will Walton and Sean Lanfair, who Bohringer said will be asked to “step up and pick up the slack”.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Mustangs will be leaning on DePalma, who is their returning All-League player. Bohringer noted that Mike Conte, who led the team with three home runs last season, will be counted on to drive in runs this season. Also contributing to the offensive attack will be Chris Fisher, DH Patrick Brady and C Matt Demelas.
The biggest immediate issue is the weather. The miserable winter dropped several feet of snow on the field over the past two months and the team will not be able to practice outside for some time.
On the bright side, virtually every team is in the same boat.
“It hasn’t impacted the pitchers, because you would rather them throw inside anyway this time of year,” said Bohringer. “It has affected the defense, though, because the gym is only so big and we only have 90 minutes to practice the run-downs, pickoffs and drills.”
Weather pending, the Mustangs will open up their league schedule on April 6 at Valley Stream South.