The bright lights. The turf field. The diamond. The batter’s box where hopeful major leaguers dig in each summer.
There’s a certain appeal to playing at Fishkill’s Dutchess Stadium. During the spring season, local high school baseball teams have the chance to utilize the field. On Friday, Spackenkill and Red Hook will have the opportunity to play at the “The Dutch” when they square off at 4:15 p.m.
“It’s always nice for the kids to play in a venue like Dutchess Stadium,” said Spackenkill coach Don Neise, whose team opens its season Wednesday against Arlington in Freedom Plains. “I always think it’s great for the kids.”
“Any time you get an opportunity to go, it’s something you always take in and remember. The idea of being there is neat for the kids.”
Last year, Spackenkill had its run of four straight Section 9 Class B championships end with a 10-0 finals loss to Highland. This year the Spartans return Josh Rosario and Mike Hovermill, both pitchers and shortstops. Senior outfielder Joe Oppedisano and junior catcher Joe Arcuri are also back.
“Josh and Mike are probably our 1-2 pitchers,” Neise said. “We’re looking for a lot of leadership from them. Hopefully we can feed off their leadership.”
Neise also expects “the two Joes” to give the Spartans a spark in the lineup: “They have the ability to work hard every day and give (the rest of the team) a good example to go by.”
Last year, Red Hook finished the season 9-9 and reached the Section 9 Class A quarterfinals. However, the Raiders were upended by Saugerties, 5-2. Among other returners, Red Hook brings back senior pitcher Connor Christensen. Two years ago as a sophomore, Christensen tossed six innings and struck out six batters in the Raiders’ 5-2 loss to Wallkill in the Class A semifinals.
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports