Southington (CT)

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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To view the full list of 2023 Team Previews that we have already completed, please click here.

2023 Spring Team Preview: Southington

SOUTHINGTON, Ct. - Stan Switala did not mince words about his goal at Southington.

“I want to bring a state championship,” the second-year head coach said. “We haven’t won it since 1999. That’s our goal.”

The former mentor in California was an interim head coach a year ago at Southington following the death of Charlie Lembo.

“The program was already in good hands,” pointed out Switala, who will begin his ninth year as a head coach. “I want to step it up more. The biggest thing to winning more is a winning culture and we already have that.”

Switala, a former scout who has sent 74 players to pro ball in his time as a mentor, is confident about what the Blue Knights can do in 2023 coming off a 21-4 season that ended with a loss to Fairfield Warde in the LL finals.

“Last year we were told we’d be a .500 team and we go 21-4 and to the state finals,” Switala related. “This year we have a ton of arms. We have at least a dozen on the roster that we can put out there.”

C.J. Pierce is expected to be the ace after fanning 33 in 17 innings a year ago with a 1-0 record, two saves and a 2.47 ERA. The 74th-rated senior right-handed pitcher in New England is committed to Post University.

C.J Dibenedetto, the 13th-ranked junior RHP in Connecticut, had a 1-0 record with three saves in a closing role last year, striking out 22 in 19.1 innings with a 1.45 ERA and will be the number two pitcher or closer this season.

Senior Tyler Blumetti, a Hartford signee, was the number three hurler last season with a 4-1 record and 2.75 ERA, recording 25 Ks in 20.1 innings. Frank Boutot, the fifth-rated 2024 left-handed pitcher in Connecticut, is being counted on to pitch this year in addition to playing first base or outfield after batting .418 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 2022.

Colin Crowley, called by Switala “one of the best players in the state,” may close this season. The eighth-rated junior shortstop in New England who is a Winthrop commit, will bat leadoff this year after driving in 19 runs with three homers, three triples and a .290 batting average in 2022.

More pitching depth is expected from seniors Aidan Buck, who had a 0.72 ERA in 9.2 innings last season, and Jaden Maia, a center fielder and recent Dominican University commit who hit .380 with 22 RBIs a year ago.

“I think our hitting will be efficient,” Switala said about having Crowley and Maia in the lineup. “We think we can put a lot of runs on the board.”

Senior Jake DeGumbia, a Nichols College commit who hit .280 last season, and Jack Kushman, the 45th-ranked junior catcher in New England, are battling to start behind the plate with CJ Howes, the 17th-rated first baseman in New England, at first.

Juniors Carson Lentini and Ryan Hammarlund are potential second basemen with Caden Angelo back at third base.

“We get along well together,” Switala pointed out about this year’s squad. “We had a lot of sophomores on our roster last year which is not heard of at Southington. I think that experience in the state finals is second to none. Nothing will intimidate these guys. They’re prepared to win it all.”

But the head coach understands the challenges ahead in the sport of baseball.

“One and done is tough,” admitted Switala, whose biggest losses from a year ago are outfielder Jordan Rusiecki, now at North Carolina, and catcher Brady Aylward, currently at Anna Maria College. “You can run into good pitching at any time so you have to be on top of your game. You have to keep the intensity up.

“I think our experience in big games can take us all the way through,” Switala added. “Last year’s state run will prepare them for it this year.”

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