They’re armed, dangerous and ready.
That has to be a deflating thought for batters facing the Southold High School baseball team this year.
Pitching was a big reason why Southold reached the Long Island Class C final last year, finishing with an 18-5 record. And yet, as good as it was, coach Mike Carver said it will be even better this season.
The starting rotation will feature senior righthander Pat McFarland and include a pair of lefties, senior Dylan Clausen and 6-foot-3 junior Luke Hansen.
“It’s the best rotation I’ve had,” said Carver, who will take a 198-125 record into his 16th season. “Arms are not going to be a problem for us. The rotation is very solid. Any one of those three I feel very comfortable with on any given day.”
Carver said all three are bigger, stronger and better than they were a year ago and can throw in the mid-80s.
And that is not all. The First Settlers have pitching depth to go with quality. They have other reliable pitchers they can turn to such as senior rightys Shane Zimmer and Adam Baldwin, junior righty Billy Burns and senior lefty Doug Fiedler.
Opposing pitching staffs will be hard-pressed to match that.
“Yeah, we’re deep,” Hansen said after pitching off an artificial mound in the Southold High School gym during Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t think anyone’s really going to hit us much. I think we all got better, that’s the thing.”
With new pitch-count regulations being implemented this season by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, Southold stands to benefit even more by its pitching wealth.
McFarland headlines the staff. He was an All-County player and the Suffolk League VIII Pitcher of the Year in 2016, going 7-0 with a 2.48 earned run average and 53 strikeouts. He tossed a pair of one-hitters.
McFarland knows that strong pitching takes pressure off Southold’s offense. “Pitching can win you a lot of games,” he said. “If you keep teams from scoring, you don’t have to score a lot of runs.”
Clausen, who is in his fifth year on the team, injured his right knee while playing goalkeeper for Southold’s soccer team this past fall. He practiced with the basketball team for a week before stepping away. “I shut it down and rehabbed [the knee] like crazy,” he said. “Now I’m back.”
Clausen said he feels good and has been throwing for two and half months with Zimmer, who also plays catcher. “The work we put in in the offseason will definitely help,” he said.
Hansen was used in a limited relief duty last season. Now he welcomes his expanded role as a starter. “I look forward to going all seven innings this year and doing my best out there,” said Hansen, who said he reached 87 miles per hour pitching this past fall.
It sounds like the First Settlers have a lot to look forward to this year.
“We should be in every game,” Carver said. “On paper you certainly have to like what we have.”
Photo caption: Pat McFarland headlines a Southold pitching rotation that coach Mike Carver calls the best he has ever had. (Credit: Garret Meade, file)