Published DateLACONIA — With a record of 12 wins, one loss, the Laconia High School varsity baseball team is in the driver's seat of Division III. If the team can keep its collective foot on the gas pedal for the next three games, including the final home game this evening, the Sachems will cross the regular season's finish line with the division's best record and in great position for a post-season run.
Coach Jon Myers, now in his third year with the team, said his players have the potential to make the 2013 season a highlight of his young coaching career. Laconia hasn't been to a baseball championship game since 1999, when the school competed in NHIAA's Division II. What's even more encouraging to Myers is a trio of freshmen who earned a spot on the varsity roster and have shown promise of being leaders of the team for seasons to come.
The varsity freshmen include brothers Andrew and James Salta, who have demonstrated the ability to produce for their team despite their young ages. James, a shortstop, has been hitting .393 this year, while right field-playing Andrew has a seasonal batting average of .409.
The third ninth grader on the team is Riley Stone, who, said Myers, "has been phenomenal this year." Stone has impressed his coach as both a pitcher and an infielder, and his .628 batting average leads the team.
Myers is excited to see how his young players progress, especially considering the unusual amount of varsity experience they're seeing for their age. "That's a nice foundation to have going forward the next three years."
More impressive than their stats, said Myers, are the unmeasurable qualities of Stone and the Salta twins. "They're just good players all around," he said. Hard-working on and off the field, eager to learn from their coaches, Myers expect his three freshmen to be the leaders of the team in the not-too-distant future. Sharing the dugout with juniors and seniors, he said Stone and the Saltas are pretty quiet for now, but, "They're already modeling what a good ballplayer's all about. They're almost role models already."
Looking at the rest of the games on his schedule, Myers said their division-best record is anything but safe. For the final game of the season, on May 22, Laconia will travel to Berlin, a 6-7 team the Sachems haven't seen yet this season. Laconia travels to Winnisquam, which has won nine games so far, for the penultimate game of the regular season.
If those games weren't worrying enough for Myers, his team will host Prospect Mountain tonight for his team's Senior Night. Laconia beat Prospect Mountain on April 19, but just barely. The game concluded with a 7-6 decision that took ten innings to reach. He expects the Timberwolves will remember that loss when they come to Robbie Mills Field tonight. The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
Laconia's most recent game was Wednesday at Belmont, where Myers and his team came away with a 13-6 win. Despite the outcome, he was less than thrilled with his team's performance. "It was a weird game," he said. Afternoon rain caused for sloppy conditions and similar play. Laconia jumped out to a 13 run lead after two innings, but fundamental errors in the field allowed Belmont to make the game competitive. If his team is to reach the same height Laconia saw in 1999, Myers said his team will have to stay sharp in every condition and situation.
"I think if we play the way we've been playing, things look pretty good," he said. "We have to play well, stay focused on every pitch."