Typically a W and L stands for either a win or a loss, but not so much for the rebuilding Coral Shores High baseball team this season as new coach Joe Molinaro noted it’s more about wins and learning.
“We are all optimistic that if we can continue to do the things we stress, which is catching the ball, making the routine plays, situational hitting, taking the right lead — if they can get those fundamentals down, they will start believing more and more in themselves and getting more confident,” said Molinaro. “Once we get everyone working as a team, instead of a couple of guys sprinkling in, at that point we will be good.”
The coach explained he was the last man standing as the coach of the Coral Shores baseball program, for which he was a two-time, all-state player from 1986-1991, which is a major reason he received the job, adding it has been a challenging and enriching experience.
He also noted he received a team that lost a dozen key players from a year ago and has only have half that many returning with minimal varsity experience.
Despite being limited, the coach sees a bright future for the Hurricanes, beginning with sophomore Dillon Bloom, who the coach expects to be main piece of the rotation as well as the team’s starting shortstop when not pitching.
“He’s playing at a much higher level than a sophomore,” said Molinaro. “He has great range and a solid arm from short and a very good approach at the plate.”
But Bloom has not played much at the varsity level, with his freshman campaign cut short due to the shutdown last year, leaving junior transfer centerfielder and pitcher Jacob Senecal, from St. Thomas Aquinas, as one of the most seasoned players on the roster.
“You can see he has a history of being well-coached in Fort Lauderdale and has been to several showcases,” said Moliaro. “He looks at a further playing beyond high school.”
Tyler Rodriguez is also returning from last year’s squad and the coach called him the team’s workhorse after winning the Hurricanes’ open tryout for catcher as well as filling a slot in the rotation.
“Tyler has been going out and working on his own,” said Molinaro. “He has been really feeling that void for us and, while he still has room to get better, he’s also been showing he can do some damage with the stick as well.”
While the coach “sees big things for those three guys,” he added that he expects the entire roster to show major improvements this season.
“Looking at our seniors, they have really helped a lot,” said Molinaro. “Brandon Turner has shown some good signs in practice, so has Hoan Butler. Mario Menendez has also been a key player for us and is our backup catcher and Lucas Dennis will help us in the field with his speed and on the bases.”
The coach also expects junior Javier Gonzalez to man the corner positions for the team this year, as well as being the emergency catcher and developing as a pitcher, while classmate Kevin Mendoza will also play a key role in the infield.
“Those guys have been working really hard and if they get their bats going toward the bottom of the order, I think really good things will continue to happen,” said Molinaro.
The coach also added he is looking for the young Hurricanes to maintain an aggressive mentality at the plate as they gain valuable varsity experience, during a season he expects to be full of positive Ls.
“If we take care of the ball and hit in situations and run appropriately, then the wins will take care of themselves,” said Molinaro. “We have big plans, but we are still thinking small right now. Once we get things right, the success will take care of itself.”