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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Few baseball programs in the state of Massachusetts have been able to put together the type of consistency that Wellesley has in the last decade-plus, qualifying for the state tournament for 13 consecutive years.
In 2019, the Raiders played an absolutely loaded schedule that featured wins over Xaverian, two against rival Newton North, Walpole and Braintree (both Super Eight teams), culminating in a 12-8 record and an impressive 9-4 mark in league play.
A shoo-in for the Division I Tournament, Wellesley now waits to find out their seeding. They’ll look to make another long run towards the ultimate goal of a state championship.
“The goal every day is to improve and get better,” said Wellesley head coach Rob Kane when asked of his team’s general goals for this tournament. “There were guys there today at 8:45 a.m., ready to hit. I pulled in the parking lot and Jay Driver was already there warming up. Everybody wants to get better and wants to improve, and they know they are playing for the name on the front of their jerseys. They want to win it for the school, the town, and it means a lot to them. It takes a lot of will to learn in order to succeed this time of year and all of these guys seem to have that.”
Headlining Wellesley’s pitching staff in this tournament will be a pair of Division I arms in Virginia Tech bound senior captain Hank Weycker and sophomore Harvard commit Jay Driver, both of whom Kane says allow Wellesley options during this critical time of the year.
“Whenever you get into the tournament, if you have multiple arms like Hank [Weycker] and Jay Driver, you always have a legitimate chance … you could use both of those guys in one game, or you know you have a second guy ready if you make it to that next game,” said Kane. “So, it’s something you definitely want to be able to utilize to your advantage. We’ve certainly established ourselves from a pitching standpoint in 2019 with two Division I arms.”
When it comes to their bats, Wellesley’s lineup features a multitude of guys capable of knocking in runs and getting Driver and Weycker the run support necessary to win these tough playoff games.
“We have some pop in our lineup,” said Kane. “Max Zajec has come a long way. He’s gotten his average up to around .350. He’s been really clutch and pounds the ball to all areas of the field. Holt Fletcher has such strong character and has a bright future ahead of him. Teddy Goss has done a lot for us. He started the season hurt, but really performed down the stretch. He’s got three home runs. Michael Kenney is another guy who’s excelled at first base and DH. Jay Driver’s bat is up there, as well, as our lead-off guy. He always seems to find a way on base and create havoc out there when running them.”
Another big bat and a guy that Kane believes will be a big X-factor in these playoffs is Matt Maiona, who finished the regular season batting .400 and leads the team in stolen bases.
“Matt Maiona finished the season today hitting .400, and any time you can finish hitting .400 in the Bay State Conference, you know you’re a heck of a baseball player,” said Kane. “That’s a high honor, and he’s really taken advantage this season. He gets on base and finds a way to steal bases and score runs. We scored about 100 runs this season and he scored 13 of them. He’s got 13 percent of our runs, so from one player, that’s a lot right there. Overall, our lineup is strong, but we’re only as strong as our next game.”
Wellesley will begin its quest for a Division I South sectional title later this week following the release of the MIAA bracket.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.