Pictured last summer playing for Westwood MIBL, senior second baseman Will DiBattista will look to help Westwood High School varsity baseball get back to the state tournament in 2021. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
In 2019, the Westwood High School varsity baseball team came within one win of capturing the Division II South title as the Wolverines fell 7-4 to rival Hopkinton in the sectional finals.
A stacked roster of talented seniors such as Jake Pfaff and Jimmy Bean, plus a strong junior class, had the Wolverines determined and confident entering the 2020 season. Unfortunately, COVID wiped out any chance of Westwood going on a 2020 revenge tour.
A year later and the world beginning to return to normal, the Westwood boys enter the 2021 season ready to make up for lost time. This season, the Wolverines will play for not only themselves, but for all of their former senior teammates who lost out on the chance to finish their high school baseball careers in the right manner last spring.
Leading Westwood in 2021 will be three senior co-captains: third baseman and pitcher Michael Giovino, first baseman/centerfielder and pitcher Jack Rufo and right fielder/pitcher Sean Shea. Another key returnee for the Wolverines is senior second baseman Will DiBattista.
"We have very high expectations," said DiBattista when asked about his team's general goals for the upcoming season. "We believe we have a great amount of talent and we want to make a deep run in the state tournament. But, we have to focus on each game individually. If we take each game as it comes and work hard for seven innings, we can make a legitimate run."
Like all high school athletes returning to play after such a bizarre year, the Westwood boys needed to do what they could throughout the past year in order to keep their baseball skills sharp. One way Westwood High's varsity baseball players were able to do so was by playing for Westwood MIBL throughout the summer of 2020. DaBattista, Giovino, Rufo, Shea and the majority of Westwood's 2021 roster all played MIBL last summer.
Now that spring baseball and high school playoffs are back, DiBattista says he and his teammates are looking forward to playing meaningful games in the regular season and competing for a state championship.
"The return of the postseason definitely adds an extra layer of motivation," said DiBattista. "None of us have played in the playoffs in any sport in over a year, and a lot of seniors feel cheated out of their junior season when we had a very good roster. As I said, we believe we can make a run, and we very much want to. This program has been due for a while and we want to be the group that pushes Westwood over the edge."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.