Former LHS star Andrew Salta signs with Laconia Muskrats (812 w/cut)

LACONIA — In keeping with the team's focus on the Lakes Region, the Winnipesaukee Muskrats have signed Laconia native Andrew Salta, who just finished his freshman year at Plymouth State University.

Salta hit .291 with a pair of homers and three doubles, driving in 12 runs and scoring 17 in just 55 at-bats for the Panthers. Starting the season as a backup, he worked his way into the lineup and provided some solid numbers for a first year college player while playing mainly in left field for the Panthers. He and his twin brother, James, are both former Laconia High School standouts who now play at Plymouth State.

"We are excited to have Andrew join us for the start of the season," said Muskrats General Manager, Kristian Svindland.  "I have been in communication with Andrew's coach at Plymouth State, Clay Jenkins, about Andrew's growth as a player and if the New England Collegiate Baseball League is a good fit for the two sides.  We agreed that Andrew's athleticism and work ethic would make him an ideal Muskrat as a temporary replacement.  He still has some growing to do and more to learn, but the Muskrats have a need for a utility player for the first couple of weeks of the season."

Salta becomes the third PSU Panther on the Muskrats roster. Nashua native, Josh Goulet, a center fielder in his sophomore season with the Panthers, hit .280 and stole 27 bases, only getting caught once. "Goulet's glove and speed will play nicely in that deep centerfield at Robbie Mills." said Svindland.
The third Panther suiting up for the Muskrats is starting pitcher, Geoff Kayo, another New Hampshire native, this time from Londonderry. Svindland said "Geoff was with the Muskrats for the second half of last season.  Great kid who competed well, then took that to PSU this past season and had some great moments on the mound."
Kayo had a 2-1 record with a 4.97 era and 21 strikeouts in 25 innings.
Svindland said that Muskrats players will report early in June with the first workouts June 4-5 and the first game on June 6 in Mystic, Connecticut., The home opener at Robbie Mills Field is scheduled for June 9.
Nine of the first 10 games the Muskrats play will be on the road and that's by design according to Svindland, who said that he talked with officials in the New England College Baseball League about having better attendance at games later in the season.
“Many kids are still in school early in June and during Motorcycle Week people seem reluctant to battle traffic. We thought we'd do better with more home games later in the season,” said Svindland.
The schedule will also allow the city of Laconia time to drill new wells near Robbie Mills Field to serve the park, which presently does not have water service due a water service line break from a water tower on the former Laconia State School property.
The Laconia City Council on Monday night approved spending $47,000 to drill the new wells, which will deliver water to the water tower for use at the park.

Bill Clay returns for his second season as the Muskrats head coach. Clay, a longtime baseball coach and former professional scout from Texas, has more than 30 years of experience coaching top rated college, high school and professional teams, such as Tarleton State University and the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association.  Over his career, Clay has accumulated 622 victories.  In addition he has served as an associate scout with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.

“The NECBL offers a unique opportunity to work with some of the most talented young baseball players in the country.  My experience as a Division 1 and 2 collegiate coach and professional scout positions me to groom these young men to reach their full potential as athletes on the field and positive role models within the community,” said Clay.
Gary Calhoun returns for his second year as well and will serve as assistant coach of the Muskrats.  He joined the Muskrats in 2016 after 28 seasons as head coach of the Hillsborough Community College baseball team, located in Tampa, where he guided countless players during his tenure, including more than 50 athletes that went on to play professionally.
Alex Watson joins the staff this year as the pitching coach. Watson was born in Arizona, but raised in Las Vegas.  He was a left-handed pitcher who began his college career at the College of Southern Nevada.  From CSN, Watson transferred to Campbellsville University, an NAIA school in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  Upon graduation, Watson immediately joined the coaching ranks and was a graduate assistant/head pitching coach at Campbellsville.  During his time as coach, he helped guide the team to a Conference Championship and subsequent top seeding in their regional tournament.

  • Written by Roger Amsden
  • Category: Local Sports
  • Hits: 21

Belmont tops Bishop Brady 5-3 for 10th straight victory

BELMONT — "It was good to win a close one. It was the kind of game where you could feel the pressure," said Bemont High School baseball coach Matt LeBlanc after the Raiders downed Bishop Brady 5-3 Wednesday afternoon for their 10th straight win.
In recent weeks Belmont has been red hot at the plate and winning by big margins after dropping their first two games of the season.
Wednesday sophomore left hander Griffin Embree scattered three hits and struck put nine over seven innings to post the win. In the first inning he surrendered a long home run to right center to Mario Fusco of Bishop Brady and an unearned run in the second.
Belmont scored in each of he first two innings and pulled ahead 4-2 in the third when it loaded the bases with nobody out.
Brady came back in the fifth to make it 4-3 on a Fusco hit and three stolen bases but back-to-back doubles by Corey Desrosier and Chris Marden in the sixth gave Belmont an all-important insurance run.
Center fielder Marden had two hits and an RBI as did right fielder Jonny LeClair.
"We had some loud outs and loaded the bases a couple of times." said LeBlanc, who said that the 10-2 Raiders are entering a crucial stretch in their playoff run.
They hosted Inter-LakesThursday and will play at home against White Mountain Friday. Next week they host Laconin before playing Franklin on the road and close out their season with a home game against Prospect Munaatin.
"We've got a lot of tough baseball lef to play. For us, the most important game is the next one. We can't get ahead of ourselves. We have to take every team we face as a threat and play that way," said LeBlanc.
He says their good experience on the team, like senior starting pitchers Cole Contiagiani and Corey Desroiser, who have helped lead the team into the playoffs the last two years. There are also some young players like Embree, Wednesday's winner, and sophomore catcher Cam Magerer, who went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs in last Saturday's 11-1 win over Newfound.
The Raiders were 14-4 last year and lost to Bow, which went on to play in the Division III title game, in the playoffs.
LeBlanc, who was named 2016 D-III Coach of the Year, grew up in Swampscott Mass., the hometown of Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro. He says that his father was a baseball coach for 35 years and he's following in his father's footsteps.
He has been coaching in Belmont for 14 years and has been the varsity coach for the last seven years.
LeBlanc says that he's hopeful that the Raiders will continue to hit line drives and have the consistent pitching they've had in their last 10 games as they head into the home stretch of the season in their seearch for yet another playoff spot.

"We need to stay consistent if we're going to go beyond where we went last year. This is a good team and I think we're capable of making some noise in the playoffs." said LeBlanc.


Chris Marden of Belmont had two hits, including a run-scoring double, as Belmont won its 10th straight game Wednesday, beating Bishop Brady 5-3. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Griffin Embree, a sophomore at Belmont, pitched seven innings and struck out nine while surrendering only three hits as Belmont won its 10th straight game Wednesday, beating Bishop Brady 5-3. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Tough going, but softballers haven't given up on themselves

05-12 LHS Softball 9May17348742

Laconia's Jera Kirk makes the out in left field during NHIAA Divison III softball Tuesday afternoon at Opechee Park.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

LACONIA — It’s been a tough season so far for the Laconia High School girl’s softball team, which has only one win all season and this week suffered a pair of lopsided losses, 18-2 to Stevens High of Claremont Tuesday and a 12-0 loss to Newfound Regional on Wednesday.
But Monique Swormstedt, in her second year of coaching the team, says that her team may be losing but they haven’t given up on themselves.
“They’re good kids and hard workers. They show up for every practice and keep working at getting better. They’re frustrated and don’t want to lose. One of our pitchers, Dani Friend, is always there and she’s a great kid and a great leader.”
Friend, a junior, is one of the team’s starting pitchers and her mother, Laura, is the team’s scorekeeper.
Both Dani Friend and the other starting pitcher, Bianca Russo, have been victimized by a porous defense in recent games. Laconia made 12 errors in the Claremont game and eight errors in the Newfound game. That meant that in those games they had to pitch the equivalent of nearly seven extra innings, giving opposing hitters many more opportunities at the plate.
“Good teams are built on pitching and defense and we’ve got to get better in both of those areas. Dani and Bianca are both juniors, so they’ll be back next year. We’re a really young team and have lots of good athletes who are still learning how to play,” says Swormstedt.
She said outfielder Jerra Kirk is the only senior on the team.
Sophomore Taylor Morrill has emerged as the team’s top power hitter with four homers and two freshmen, Sierra Keets and Allison Van George are starting in the outfield.
Catcher Allison Locklear is junior and one of the hardest workers on the team, along with Delaney Ross, while infielders Abby Shute and Morgan Romprey have also shown promise.
The Sachems, now 1-9 on the season, will face some more strong teams next week when they face off against Winnisquam and Franklin.
“I think we may be playing in a division that’s a little over our heads, given the number of girls who actually play. But we won the Division III title several years ago when we had strong pitching and that’s what we need to get back to,” said Swormstedt.

05-12 LHS Softball 9May17348815

Marti Milan of Stevens makes the tag at third base on Morgan Romprey of Laconia during NHIAA Division III softball Tuesday afternoon. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilford girls inching toward .500

GILFORD — The Gilford girls tennis team fended off Prospect Mountain on Thursday, 5-4

Earning wins in singles matches for Gilford were top-seeded Sarah Fillion, followed by Regan McIntire, Olivia Salesky and Hannah Lord. Gilford's doubles team of Fillion and McIntire sealed the win for the Golden Eagles.

Gilford Coach Hermann Defregger said, "Great match up between two young teams. We played four matches this week with no chance to practice. Came away with two wins and two losses."

Gilford, now 3 and 4, will have the chance to even its record on May 1 when the team hosts Moultonborough.