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Florida trip gets Boys' Latin baseball ready for season

Lakers set to contend again for MIAA B Conference championship

By Tom Worgo, tworgo@tribune.com

6:00 AM EDT, March 31, 2014

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It would be understandable if Boys' Latin baseball coach Bill Greenwell started the season frustrated. Because of the snow, the Lakers couldn't practice on their home field since the first day of workouts Feb. 18.

But the Lakers also found sunshine in Florida in the middle of the month, helping them get ready for a season that eventually might arrive.

"We have been doing indoor practices in the (Boys' Latin) middle school gym and we have gone to some offsite locations for some hitting," Greenwell said. "We have also hit outside and used a practice infield at school. But its not real-game situations."

Games with St. Paul's (March 12), Severn (March 25) and Park (March 27) were canceled because of poor field conditions.

That wan't an issue, however, when Boys' Latin spent a week in Florida in mid-March at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, practicing and playing for the third consecutive year.

Boys' Latin got some much-needed time on the diamond, taking on teams from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

"We played some really good competition," Greenwell said. "We got some game repetitions in so we might we ahead of some teams that haven't had a chance to do that. Now, we are ready to go."

The Lakers were supposed to open on Opening Day in Baltimore, Monday, March 31, against visiting Baltimore Lutheran before the weekend rain and snow soaked fields everywhere.

Still, Greenwell thinks his Lakers will be a contender for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship once things get under way.

The team returns six starters from a 12-10 team that lost in the conference final to Glenelg Country School last May at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

That championship appearance gave Boys' Latin a goal heading into the season.

"It's opened to make this year even better," Lakers junior shortstop/pitcher Skyler Morris said. "I definitely think we will be the team to beat. "(The title-game loss) definitely motivates us. We haven't won since 2008. We have been to the final twice and it just got out from under us."

Morris batted .458 last year and earned all-league honors. "He was MVP of our team," Greenwell said. "He is a really solid player."

Morris also pitches, and the right-hander will work as the No. 2 starter behind ace and senior right-hander Freddie Bopst.

"He will be a good college player somewhere," Greenwell said. "He is trying to figure out where he is going to go now. He is starting to looking at schools now."

Bopst could easily play college baseball, Greenwell said.

Bopst also plays first base and led the Lakers in RBIs and slugging percentage last year.

"Freddie could be a college pitcher," Greenwell said. "He chose instead to go Saint Francis in Pennsylvania to be a college quarterback. He has a lot of experience. He's been a starting pitcher for me for four years."

Sophomore right-hander Dom Maggio and freshman right-hander Mark Lopez also figure into the rotation.

Junior right-hander Liam Madden is being counted on in relief.

"Our pitching should be better than most of the teams in the conference," Greenwell said.

Offensively, Boys' Latin will rely on Bopst, Morris, returning starters, senior Michael Whitehurst (C/OF), senior Parker Yablon (C), Junior Josh Smith (OF) and Maggio (2B). Joining them in the starting lineup is freshman Mark Lopez, and sophomore Max Keefe also should get a lot of playing time.

"I think we are up there with the big boys in the conference," said Greenwell, referring to Glenelg and St. Mary's. "I think we can compete with anybody. This is the best team we have had in four years. I think we will be good for while. We have a good program."