Now the Raiders, who finished with a 14-15 campaign a year ago, hope to build on that experience, but with different results than has been recorded in their history books.
“I would say you always go in with the goal to win the conference and to win zone,” Reed coach John Phenix said. “My goal is for improvement each game because we’re young and a lot of kids haven’t had a lot of experience at the varsity level. You can’t get to state if you don’t qualify for zone and win zone. So that would be our goal, to qualify for zone and go from there. By that time, I’d hope we could just stay healthy, but the ultimate goal is to win zone and qualify for state then compete in state.”
Should the Raiders reach the bar that Phenix has set for his team, one area they will have to improve upon is playing on their home diamond. While Reed finished league play on the road with a 6-4 mark, RHS was just 3-7 in home contests. Heading the Blue and Gold charge to a regional title, with Reed’s last state tournament appearance coming in 2004, will be a pair of seniors that Phenix said he will be counting on to lead the Raiders.
“Mark Nowaczewski for one. He’s probably one of the better pitchers in the state, let alone the North,” he said. “He’ll be a valuable part for us because he’ll be swinging the bat for us too, and he’s a good athlete. Most of the other kids are pretty unproven. I would say the one who has stood out so far, and he did it the last part of last year when he got a chance to play shortstop, is Brett Chaney. He’s been kind of silent leader out there and he had a great scrimmage the other day. He just gets better each day. He’s a very smart baseball man.”
Although Phenix said much of his roster is untested, many of the Raiders will get a chance to prove their worth during the season opening tournament which begins Thursday.
“In this tournament, probably everybody is going to play,” Phenix said. “I’m just looking for some depth and consistency. It’ll be a chance for a lot of kids who haven’t played a lot to get some time and I’m just looking for improvement with each game.”
Regardless of which players step up and earn playing time after the tournament, Phenix said the Raiders’ formula for success is simple if they want to achieve their season long goals.
“We have to be consistent defensively," he said. “Our pitchers are going to throw strikes, and other than Mark, not a lot of them are strikeout pitchers but they’re consistent in the strike zone. So we have to play good defense behind them which I think we’re very capable of after what I saw the other day. That is the key for us though. Our pitchers are going to throw strikes and we have to handle the ball. We can’t give up extra outs.”