EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 23, 2013

Whittier baseball 2013: Five steps to build a champion

Hector Longo
hlongo@eagletribune.com

---- — 1. Totally selfless — For three seasons, Nathan Frongillo played second base and was one of the best in Eastern Mass. But this team needed a stabilizing force in the outfield. Frongillo stepped up and sacrificed, playing a brilliant center field defensively while hitting .356, scoring 25 runs and driving in 17.

2. The horse — Greats like Tim Stronach and Dillon Ryan set the bar high for the No. 1 spot in the rotation. Andrew Wells took it to another level. Wells went an amazing 88 innings, going 11-1 with one save on the year. He struck out 112 and walked just 12, posting a 1.27 ERA.

3. Out of nowhere — Teams don’t succeed in the postseason without a superb No. 2 pitcher. In the preseason, Whittier coach Joe Boland thought that might be a liability. Enter senior right-hander Devan Doucette, who went from bullpen afterthought to prime-time all-conference standout in just one year. Doucette finished the year at 7-3 with 41 strikeouts and a 2.41 ERA in 58 innings.

4. The backbone — Anthony Licciardello proved plenty behind the plate and at the plate in an all-conference 2012 junior season. But this spring, the senior was off the charts. Licciardello dominated with a .442 batting average, 25 RBIs and 20 runs. Nine of the RBIs came in the five state tourney games. He made it back-to-back on the all-conference team.

5. Fitting in the final pieces — Boland needed a No. 2 hitter, and the Wildcats found one in Alex LoGiudice, a speedy, intelligent, team-first guy. … Junior Jaylin Deveau, a superb athlete in football and hoops, made it three for three. He hit .307 with 18 runs and 13 RBIs. … And sophomores Ralph Francesconi and Jorge Martinez proved they could be top run producers in the present and the future. Martinez hit .288 with 18 RBIs, while Francesconi drove in 21 with a .259 average.