Last May, Fords Baseball was crowned 2022 PAISAA Champions after beating Malvern Prep at Villanova Ballpark. The team enters the new season with high expectations and even higher hopes.
With many key players returning to the roster, the team feels like this year is theirs for the taking.
“Coming off a state championship, we have all the pieces to make that happen again this year. It’s going to be up to us upperclassmen to bring the new guys in and create a culture that brings us back to Villanova Ballpark,” Fifth Former Ian White said.
While the team experienced success in the state tournament last year, they struggled in the Inter-Ac. This year, the focus is on improving in the league. Division-I recruits Cole Donnelly (Lehigh University), Ian White (East Carolina University), and Mark Quatrani (Cornell University) headline a roster that is determined to dominate in the Inter-Ac.
I want to make bigger contributions to the varsity team this year, and I want to help us be successfulNoah trexler ’24
Off the back of a 3-7 record last year, White feels like the team still has something to prove.
“The emphasis on the Inter-Ac is definitely there,” White said. “We still have something to prove.”
This offseason, coaches Mike Palumbo and Tom McNeely stepped down as pitching and infield coaches. Coaches Luke Kania and Anthony Cimabue have stepped up and hope to lead the team to success. While Colby McNeely’s ’22 (Rider University) presence will be sorely missed, White will headline the Fords rotation alongside Sixth Former Jac Campbell (Norwich University), Fifth Formers Kevin Reavey, Fred Jordan, and Noah Trexler, and Third Former Jacob Horwitz. Campbell threw seven innings of one-run baseball in the State Championship game against Malvern.
Jordan and Reavey will see an increased workload in a busy schedule. Throughout the PAISAA tournament, Reavey came up clutch for the Fords with saves in both of the Fords’ upsets at the Episcopal Academy and Penn Charter. Trexler comes into the year having featured sparingly at the varsity level in his first two years of high school, the six-foot left-hander is intent on making his presence felt at the varsity level.
“I want to make bigger contributions to the varsity team this year, and I want to help us be successful,” Trexler said.
The other lefty at coach Bob Castell’s disposal is Third Form southpaw Jacob Horwitz. Horwitz made large strides in his development, featuring at regional showcases. Horwitz possesses an impressive fastball and two breaking balls—a changeup and a slider—that can fool batters.
Coach Kania hopes to find a group that can solidify itself. Sixth Former Ryan Getz’s imminent return should excite all involved with the program. Getz has missed both his Third and Fifth Form seasons due to COVID and an ACL injury. A high-octane player with a distinct feel for the game, Getz will look to return to his previous form where he hit .346 and drove in fourteen runs in the process.
Sixth Formers Joe Pennewill, Sean Dougherty, and Jaiden Shuchman who featured in platoon and bench roles last year will be asked more of by the Fords coaching staff. Dougherty in particular was vital to the Fords end of year bump, consistently driving the ball as a pinch-hitter in the back half of games.=
Rounding out a group of outfielders is Third Former Jaidyn Rivera, who has impressed as a Third Former making varsity this season.
Infielders Coach Joe Martin will rely on Sixth Former Cole Donnelly and Fifth Former Connor Scanlan—two returning starters—to command a demanding infield. Atop the Fords lineup, Scanlan will build on last year’s campaign where he hit .292 with a .457 on-base percentage. The Fords offense will require Scanlan’s ability to get on base at a high clip.
Sixth Former Cole Donnelly announced his commitment to Lehigh in February 2021 and struggled at the beginning of his junior season after seven months of rehab.
“It was definitely challenging not being able to swing a bat for the majority of my recovery,” Donnelly said. “Once I was cleared for playing I worked very hard to get back to the level I was at before surgery and that honestly didn’t really click until the summer.”
Donnelly delivered on continuous improvement. He shined in moments at the end of the season and was instrumental in the PAISAA championship run, flashing the leather multiple times in the final innings to hold off Malvern.
As a whole, the Fords are looking forward to Opening Day and the innate excitement it presents.
“We’re all excited to see what kind of start we can get off to. I think it’s imperative we start hot as it will give us something to build on as we head into the Inter-Ac season,” said Fifth Former Garrett Kriebel.
The non-conference schedule the baseball brass has put together will look to prime the Fords for the grueling Inter-Ac schedule in April and May. Tough tests against schools like Westtown, Perkiomen, and LaSalle will serve as the building blocks for the April 11th trip to Malvern Prep — the Inter-Ac opener.
Sixth Form backstop Mark Quatrani committed to Cornell in July after he hit .389 and registered a 1.402 OPS as a junior. The Fords most potent hitter for much of last year’s season, Quatrani acknowledges the expectations coming to this year’s plate.
Still, Quatrani has made it clear that his main focus is to support his teammates on the mound.
“I’ll always have a lot of responsibilities, but my main priority is defense over all other aspects of the game. I’ve known these [pitchers] for a few years now and am very familiar with their repertoire and overall mindset on the mound.”
Quatrani’s relationship with the pitching staff will be key in determining the Fords success come late April and May.
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