EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 27, 2014

Vargas has Lancers riding high

There’s an air of confidence building around the Lawrence High baseball program, one that says these 2014 Lancers could be better than their 5-4 start might indicate.

If you’re looking for the reason, go no further than the mound, where the next lethal Lancer, Joan Vargas, has folks buzzing around Devlin Field.

Vargas, an Eagle-Tribune All-Star who went 6-4 with a 2.91 ERA last year, is off to a 2-1 start so far. But his strength lies in more than just numbers.

“You know the pitchers we’ve had here. (Mike) Calzetta and Vic (Mendez) were both (conference) Players of the Year, and Joan was too (last year),” said Lancers coach Brendan Neilon. “He’s right there with the best of them. He’s not as overpowering and won’t get the strikeouts those guys had, but he just goes out there and pounds the strike zone every time he throws. He competes, and he wins.”

Vargas could have been the answer to a great trivia question, as in name the only pitcher to beat Division 1 North champion Billerica twice.

Already this year, he’s shut down Central Catholic and blanked Tewksbury.

“And against Lowell, we didn’t play well behind him, because he was good enough to win on that day, too,” said Neilon.

Noted Tewksbury High coach Ron Drouin, “The kid is legit. He’s a darn good pitcher.”

Unlike last season, where an uncertainty about Vargas playing cost him training and the early part of the season, the southpaw came into this preseason ready to fire.

“I ran a lot to get in shape, because this is senior year and it’s big,” said Vargas, who will be looking at community colleges next year. I was a little lazy last year, because I thought I wasn’t going to be around.”

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