EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 1, 2013

MVC UP FOR GRABS

Giammasi now a catcher; Raiders pack roster with power pair

Touching all the Bases
Hector Longo

---- — As polished as Nathaniel Giammasi has been for two straight years, flashing the leather in the Andover High infield, about three weeks ago the Warrior senior decided to mix things up a bit.

“Hockey season was over, and I called coach (Dan) Grams and told him I wanted to try out for catcher,” said Giammasi, who changed his last name over the winter from Spellacy. “It was an open position (with Brian Ganci graduated) and I just wanted to go for it. I caught a little bit freshman year, and I thought it would be fun.”

Giammasi’s move behind the plate fills a hole for the Warriors, who according to the league’s coaches, have as good a chance as any to vie for the large division title this spring.

Andover has had a nice recent history of seniors coming out of nowhere to enjoy fine seasons. Ganci is just the latest, but that’s not why Giammasi did it.

“Really, it’s all about the team,” said Giammasi, who hit .302 last year and scored 12 runs. “Andy Nason is just as effective a catcher as I am. We’re still battling. And I know coach is going to do what’s best for the team.

“As long as I’m doing what I’m told. As long as I’m a leader, that’s what matters most to me.”

Giammasi still has his eye on playing in college. Merrimack and St.. Rose are still high on his list.

Raider big men looking to prep

They will be staples in the Central lineup, one on the hill and the other at the plate.

Talk about a couple solid pillars to build on with 6-foot-4 southpaw Andrew Hamel and 6-foot-1 powerhouse Nick Gorski.

Together, they hope to re-inject Central Catholic back into the top of the Merrimack Valley Conference race.

“Talent-wise, we lost a lot, but the drive to win is definitely still here,” said Gorski, who hit .433 to lead the Raiders last year. “Last year, we didn’t do as well as we could in the regular season, and I thought we played pretty well in the playoffs.”

Added Hamel: “Last year couldn’t have ended any better for me. I think we’re all trying to look at it as a jump-off point into this season.”

Both Raiders have another thing in common. Each will move on to prep school for a post-graduate year.

Gorski is locked in at Phillips Andover, where he’s hoping to cash in on the extra exposure not only on the diamond but in hockey as well. Hamel, who was a reserve on the Raider North title hoop team, could also end up at Phillips. He’s down to Andover and Deerfield Academy.

“This year, we’re ready,” said Gorski. “I think we’ve got a lot to prove.”

Tough news in Haverhill

The return to action for Haverhill High senior Nick Comei is not moving as quickly as the shortstop/pitcher would have expected.

After breaking a bone in his foot late in the hoop season, Comei has worked incredibly hard but is still pointing at a return no sooner than the middle of this month.

“It’s been very frustrating, watching the team go on without me,” said Comei, a four-year varsity player. “I’ve been there every day, still trying to help us win, just in different ways this time.”

Comei noted this week was a good one for him as he shed his crutches and has begun to take some swings and field some grounders. But there is no high-impact or full-speed work yet.

“It’s been tough. We’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “It’s just a long way to go.”

Comei was 2-2 last year and is expected to eat up a bunch of innings this spring. But it looks like, for now, that he won’t hit full speed until the second half.

Conference chatter

The consensus has Chelmsford owning the edge in the large division and Billerica in the small.

Billerica is the team to beat overall, according to the coaches. UMass Lowell-bound Max Frawley and his high-80s heat head a four-man pitching staff with Dylan Lavery, Chris Murphy and Rob Gambale that one area coach likened to the group in Lowell last spring talent-wise.

With Lowell losing everyone, my thoughts would be that the large is so wide-open. ...

Weather permitting, the action for league teams in the region is set to open this week. Haverhill hosts Masconomet Wednesday. Thursday, Central Catholic is at Lawrence, 4:15 p.m., in a non-league game. The Raiders head to the Cape for a game with Sandwich Saturday, then get a taste of everyone’s choice in D1 North on Monday, at St. John’s Prep.

Methuen opens at Billerica a week from today then tangles with North Andover in the Knights’ season-opener next Wednesday.

Andover waits till April 10 for its season debut with Billerica.