By Brian Deakyne
LINCROFT — After two mediocre seasons, the Christian Brothers Academy baseball program is ready to be back on top.
The Colts, who finished an even .500 in 2011 at 11-11, are hoping to get consistent play all over the diamond, helping them get back to one of the top baseball programs in New Jersey.
“Our goal really is to get back to where we were for the last 20 years,” CBA head coach Martin Kenny said. “The last two years we’ve been playing .500 ball. We were young, but now those guys are older and they have the experience.”
The Colts went through a rough stretch last season, including a mercy loss to Notre Dame in the opening round of the NJSIAA non-public, South A tournament, 12-2, ending their season.
Their recent troubles have been attributed to a lack of consistent play, particularly on the mound, Kenny said.
“What we need to do is to get our pitching back more consistently,” he said. “I need guys that can really start games and finish games. The last few years, we haven’t had that, we’ve had people pitching by committee, and that usually doesn’t work out.”
The Colts will need to be more productive at the plate as well, Kenny said.
“We also have to be more consistent when batting. The last few years, we’ve had some games where we pitched well, but couldn’t hit so we lost low-scoring games. And we’ve had games where we could hit, but couldn’t pitch, so we’ve lost high-scoring games. We have to be more consistent in both of those areas,” Kenny said.
“Defensively, we’ve been pretty good. I’m happy with where we are there and hopefully that keeps improving.”
CBA will be looking towards senior shortstop Sean Arnott as the team’s leader. Arnott has been starting at varsity for two years, and will be a leader in 2012 after committing to Temple University in the fall.
The Colts will also be looking for major contributions from juniors Joe Dudek, Matt Pidich, and Chris Cordova — all of whom were called up as freshman two years ago. Dudek recently committed to play baseball at North Carolina.
“Being called up as freshman is rather unique here, but given the circumstances, we had to do it,” Kenny said. “I do expect there to be leadership from the other seniors on the team, and I think we have some mature underclassmen that can step in and be leaders as well.”
Junior Zach Zupa will also be a key player for the Colts after seeing significant time in his sophomore year.
“I don’t name captains. I think captains and leaders emerge during the season,” Kenny said.
Last season, CBA finished in fifth place in the always-competitive Shore Conference A-North division — a division that appears to be on the rise once again.
Manalapan claimed the division a year ago, en route to a group IV state title in June.
“Manalapan should have a good ball club, and I think Middletown South and Middletown North will be good as well,” Kenny said. “I’ve heard good things about Marlboro and Freehold Township, so there should be parity there. I think we will be right up there.
“The thing that the A-North is consistently good at is hitting the ball. We need to be able to do that to be successful.”
The Colts are slated to open the season on April 2, when they will hit the road to take on Freehold Township.