CHESHIRE -- Hoosac Valley coach Bob Rivard is an optimistic coach. At least he is trying to be as he prepares his team for the 2013 baseball season.
The Hoosac Valley baseball team returns five players from last season's roster -- only two of those players started. So Rivard and the Hurricanes are taking a wait and see approach to the season.
"I'd like to say that ‘yes, we're going to be really competitive,' and I'd like to say ‘yes, we'll be in the [Western Massachusetts] tournament,' " Rivard said earlier this week. "Until we get out there and see what we have, I really can't say that. You just hope that by the end of the season we're better than we were at the beginning of the season."
The biggest obstacle for the Hurricanes right now is the weather. Like every other team in the county, Hoosac has been confined to the gymnasium for practice to start the season. Rivard knows every team is in the same position, but with so few returnees it's even tougher for Hoosac.
The Hurricanes had nine seniors on the team that qualified for the tournament as the No. 6 seed last season. They were eliminated by county rival Mount Greylock. Now the Hurricanes will have just one senior on the squad.
Jake Hall was the team's backup catcher during his junior season and will most likely take over the catching duties this year. Who he'll be catching remains to be seen.
Matt Braman anchored the leadoff spot in the batting order and controlled center field last season. This year he'll see more time on the pitchers mound. Junior Justin Nichols will also see time on the mound. He did pitch for the Hurricanes last season.
"Braman is going to see some more time and Justin will see a lot of time," Rivard said. "It's really wait and see. I really hate to take [Braman] out of center field, he was so good last year. Until we see and get guys stepping up and taking over positions it's up in the air."
The Hurricanes will be junior heavy this season. Most of those juniors saw significant time at the junior varsity level last season.
"Most [of the kids] coming back have good experience at the J.V. level," Rivard said. "I'm happy with what I've seen [in the first two weeks]. Now, our biggest challenge is seeing where guys have to play and how they handle it."
With so many fresh faces joining the varsity roster, the Hurricanes have focused on fundamentals in the gym so far. The Hoosac coaching staff is attempting to bring players up to speed, while at the same attempting to figure who will fit where on the field once opening day comes around.
The Hurricanes are scheduled to kick off the regular season with a home game against St. Joseph's on April 5. It will be the team's first game back on school grounds since 2011. Due to the renovations taking place at the school, the team played at Ugo C. Balardini field in Adams.
"We're going back to ground zero a little in terms of rebuilding here," Rivard said. "But so far, so good. We're excited."