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Hillers baseball looks for another deep tourney run

by | May 15, 2023 | Sports

Joe Scardino

Joe Scardino swings at a pitch during a game last month against Xaverian. PHOTO/JOHN CARDILLO

The Hopkinton High School baseball team has a new coach this spring but the same goals in mind. Matt Anderson took the helm of the program from Steve Simoes and inherited a deep and talented roster and a program that is no stranger to playing well into June.

“Our goals are lofty in this program,” Anderson said. “Over the past three years, we were in two state finals, and last year we were in the elite eight. That sets the bar pretty high for us, but I think we are capable of doing big things again this year.”

Hopkinton’s primary goal is to get to the tournament, but Anderson said competing for the Tri-Valley League title also is something the Hillers hope to accomplish. He said the transition to a new coach has been smooth.

“I am taking over for a guy that had a lot of success and who I consider to be a legend,” Anderson said. “The kids have bought in, and that’s the difficult part, you don’t know if they will buy in. They have been outstanding since day one.”

Sophomore Mitch Simulis has been a standout, and Anderson called him the team’s best hitter who also will be a big contributor on the mound once he gets over an early season arm injury.

Senior captain Joe Carrazza, the coach said, is a “game changer” at the plate.

“He battles at the plate, he gets extra-base hits, he hits the ball to all fields and he runs extremely well,” Anderson said, adding that Carrazza “single-handedly” won a game against Holliston this spring. “We are a different lineup when he is in there.”

Sophomore Dylan Ruff is a “star” at shortstop, Anderson said, touting the middle infielder’s athleticism.

“He has shown mental toughness,” Anderson said. “He had one bad game, and he came back against Dedham and made every big play like nothing had happened. It’s not easy for a sophomore to do that.”

Junior Charlie Petruney brings both speed and character to the Hillers, according to his coach.

“He is an all-around good kid to have,” Anderson said. “His defense has been a big part of our success, and offensively he has had a lot of big hits. He steals bases, and he’s a pest on the base paths.”

Peter Mahon, a junior, has caught every inning for Hopkinton while Joe Scardino, a senior, is a strong third baseman who has been dependable on the offensive end as well. Senior captain Connor Hallenbeck is the starting right fielder.

“He’s a great kid overall,” Anderson said of Hallenbeck. “Anytime circumstances are difficult, he is the guy who takes charge and makes sure we stay even keel.”

Sophomore Nick Pedroli is a player with “a very bright future,” Anderson added. “He’s a future star and he’s battled with upperclassmen to earn time on the field. He’s done everything well at the plate, he’s one of our best defensive outfielders, and he’s an outstanding baserunner.”

Hopkinton also boasts a deep pitching staff. Captain Frank Oppedisano has provided significant contributions on the mound in addition to playing a versatile utility role in the field. Charlie Simulis (Mitch’s older brother) is the ace of the staff and a strong two-strike hitter at the plate, and Derek Hatherley is another standout on the hill.

“I believe he is a future college pitcher,” Anderson said. “He dominated against our toughest opponent, Xaverian, and came into a game against North Attleboro and mowed their hitters down.”

Anderson said he has a mix of talent that could have the Hillers making noise once again come tournament time, especially since Hopkinton is taking on a particularly challenging schedule.

“Our chemistry and support of each other is our biggest strength,” he said. “When we get to the tournament, we are going to be battle-tested and a tough out.”

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