Prep Baseball Report

Westhill (CT)

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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2023 Spring Team Preview: Westhill

STAMFORD, Ct. - Misfortune a year ago is now a blessing ahead of the 2023 baseball season at Westhill.

“We started off the preseason number one but had a key injury four games into the season,” reflected head coach Mike Riveles, referring to the loss of shortstop/closer Jake Benner. “We came together but our lineup had a lot of shifts. A lot of seniors started the year but we ended up with a lot of underclass starters.”

With just “two key starters” gone from a year ago, the Vikings have high hopes heading into the upcoming campaign.

“I think we have two of the better pitchers in the state,” Riveles pointed out. “Kyle Kipp had one of the most dominant years I’ve ever seen and Eric Osterhus, our number two, would be a number one on most other teams.”

Kipp, the 16th-ranked 2023 right-handed pitcher in New England, is a Boston College commit while Osterhus, the 48th-rated senior RHP in New England, is a Fordham signee.

Nik Christo, a junior utility player who “stepped up last year in Jake’s absence,” according to Riveles, will likely be the closer with the number three hurler “up in the air” heading into the season.

Sophomore Jorge Hitlin, who contributed a year ago after being called up, will play first and also provide a left-handed arm on the mound.

Senior Lance Alswanger-Busch, a Manhattanville College recruit, inherits the starting catcher position while fellow senior Jonathan Sanchez, another player who was called up during the 2022 season, will be at second base.

Kieran Hackett, a three-year starter, will be at shortstop after moving over from second when Benner was injured.

Armando Quito, the 18th-rated sophomore outfielder in Connecticut, is another player that received playing time at the middle of the season and the lone returnee in the outfield, with third base another position up for grabs.

“Pitching is obviously our strength with Kipp and Osterhus,” noted the fourth-year head coach, who led Westhill to a state runners-up finish in 2021 and league runner-up finish to eventual state champion Fairfield Warde a year ago. “Hopefully, we will play solid defense behind them. If we can scrape runs together, we will be successful.”

That is an area that brings some worries.

“Losing Mika (Petersen) and Connor (Sullivan), those were our guys with power numbers, so offense is a concern,” explained Riveles, referring to Westhill graduates now playing at Brown and Wesleyan University, respectively. “We’ll have to be creative. We have some speed and we will emphasize putting the ball in play. We need to try and minimize strikeouts and easy outs.

“What will dictate success for us is having less mistakes than the other team,” Riveles added. “We need to strikeout less and score runs behind Kyle and Eric.”

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