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April 17, 2014

Milford looks for repeat in baseball

By Mackensie O'hara CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Cooperstown Crier

---- — It may be early in the season, but Milford baseball coach Andrew Griffiths is feeling good about his team for this year.

“The majority of the team is intact and we should still be pretty competitive,” said Griffiths, who is entering his seventh year as Milford’s coach. “We hope to go to the Tri-Valley and represent our side.”

Milford won the Tri-Valley East before losing in the crossover championship to Edmeston. The Wildcats finished the season 11-4.

With a roster of 17 for the second year in a row, Griffiths is rich in numbers and is excited to see where everyone will fit in the makeup of the team.

“We are pretty deep in pitching and numbers,” said Griffiths. “We have a lot of versatile kids that can play multiple positions.”

The Wildcats have two returning seniors this year in Stephen Banks and Wyatt Waters. Both will be pitching as well as play in the infield. Waters was a top hitter last season for Milford, and Banks has been a strong contributor for the last three years.

The junior class, as it has in other seasons, is dominant and athletic. 

“We have a large core of juniors that is really the meat of our team,” said Griffiths.

Leading this group are Paul Van Warner and Blake Elliott who where both Tri-Valley All-Stars last season. Van Warner, who did not pitch last season due to injury, will be the Wildcats main shortstop and will be on the mound as well. Elliott is the catcher for the team.

Peyton Griffiths, who was also an All-Star last season and one of the top hitters for Milford, is currently on the disabled list. Griffiths is hopeful that Peyton will be back and ready to go in the beginning of May.

Fellow juniors Max Lang, William Ward and Adam Renwick will also share time on the mound for the Wildcats. Lange will be playing first base and play in the outfield. Renwick will be in the outfield as well. 

Ward exemplifies the versatility on the team this year.

“He could play just about anywhere for us,” said Griffiths.

Griffiths spoke highly of his team as a whole and of the newcomers to the squad. He sees them pushing each other and the upperclassmen, making for a very competitive and hardworking pre-season.

“Everyone has been improving,” said Griffiths. “It is early to see where the newcomers will be because we have not been outside a whole lot.

“It’s a tight group,” Griffiths continued. “These kids play together in basketball and soccer for the most part and they all have a good understanding of what it takes to be competitive and to win.”

Along with the optimism Griffiths has for his team, he also is very aware of what the competition will be like this year and is not counting anybody out.

“There are not going to be any easy games and it will be difficult to win in and win out,” said Griffiths. “We are going to have to be focused and bring our a-game every contest.”

Edmeston, the defending Tri-Valley champions, will be the team to beat again this year.

“They have a strong program,” said Griffiths of Edmeston, who defeated Milford 8-1 in last season’s championship game.

Griffiths also mentioned Laurens, Schenevus and CV-S as teams to watch this year.

“Laurens gave us a good game last year,” said Griffiths. “They have been building and getting stronger and they could prove to be a challenge.”

“You can never count out CV-S because they have had a very strong program in the past, and I think that Schenevus is going to be very competitive this year as well,” Griffiths continued.

Griffiths said that no matter who is favored now, the titles will be decided on the field. 

“It boils down to how the kids play and the execution on the field,” said Griffiths. “I’m hoping that our experience will help us transition through the year and play through things, and that we can work it out as a team.”