AC baseball squad relying on new talent

ADDISON COUNTY — The 2011 Addison County Legion baseball team has a new look this year — and is no doubt one of the younger entries in the Northern Division.
Only six members of 14 members of Coach Mike Estey’s roster have Legion experience, and only two — former Vergennes Union High School standouts Logan Williams and Jackson Alexander — are in their last years of eligibility.
The other veterans are three of their former Commodore teammates — just-graduated Dylan Bresnick, rising senior Collin Curler and rising junior Nick Richer — and one rising senior, three-year Middlebury starter Marshall Hastings.
Estey said he and assistant coaches Jim Lutton, Chad Estey and Jordan Estey will expect the older veterans to set the tone.
“We’re looking for leadership from Logan and Jordan and Collin and Dylan and Marshall,” Estey said.
He will also expect those veterans — and many of the newcomers — to be versatile. Curler has the most set role, as the starting shortstop in most games. Williams might have the most jobs: He could be a starting pitcher, catch, play outfield or man third base.
“He’ll play a lot of places,” Estey said.
Alexander started at second base for VUHS, but could see time in the outfield for AC, and the same can be said of Hastings, a starter at second base at MUHS, and Richer, the current starter at second base for VUHS. Bresnick starts at third base for VUHS, but will also see time patrolling the outfield for AC.
The most versatile of the newcomers may be VUHS rising junior Charlie Stapleford. Estey expects Stapleford to be a member of AC’s starting pitching rotation, and he started at first base in AC’s first game last week. Stapleford also has started at catcher and centerfield for VUHS and could also do the same for AC.
The final Commodores on AC are also rising juniors, Devin Hayes and Wade Steele. Hayes came on strong for VUHS as the season went along, and will both pitch and play outfield for AC. Steele started behind the plate for VUHS and in AC’s opener last week.
Two Mount Abraham athletes signed on this summer, rising senior Tommy Nelson and just-graduated Mark Dickerson. Nelson became the Eagles’ top pitcher this past spring, winning four games and playing well at short and third, while Dickerson was the Eagles’ No. 2 pitcher and also played third; Estey foresees similar roles for both with AC.
 One more Tiger joined Hastings with AC this summer, third baseman David Burt, a rising junior. Burt has also caught, pitched and played first base for the Tigers, and batted in the middle of the team’s order this spring.
 Finally, two Crown Point, N.Y., players signed on with AC this summer. Nathan Taber is yet another versatile athlete, one that Estey said runs well and can play infield, outfield or pitch, while Anthony Vanderwalker can both catch and play outfield. 
 If AC is going to win games, Estey said, his pitchers will have to throw strikes and rely on what should be a sound defense. That approach worked pretty well in AC’s opener, a 2-1 setback at perennial Northern Division power Essex on June 14.
“Defensively we’ll be strong,” he said. “We just have to string some hits together.”
Without a power-laden line-up, Estey said AC will have to prepare well and focus during games.
“I just think we need to understand how hard we have to work,” he said.
Regardless of the results, Estey expects an enjoyable summer spending time with a group that has a bright future.
“That’s going to be a plus. The best part of being a coach is working with good kids,” he said. “We’re really happy with the team.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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