The start of every season is when teams start tossing around the stock lines of playing as a family or taking it one game at a time start getting tossed around. So much so, that they start to all blend together into one, giant, predictable cliche.
But when the Lancaster Legends baseball team, given all the success they have seen in recent seasons, says something as calculated as taking it one inning at a time-you have to take notice.
“Yes, there is a huge desire to go a little farther this year,” said Legends coach Mark Dalfonso.
“I’ve tried to keep the kids focused on winning every inning because in Class AA there are so many great teams, even last year, there were a few times early on that we could have lost to anybody in our division.”
Going 22-3 overall, last spring was definitely a successful one for the Legends as they won the Section VI Class AA title before falling to Webster-Schroeder in the Far West Regionals. Winning Class AA for the third time since 2012, the Legends also took the ECIC I title with a 13-1 mark. Orchard Park handed the Legends their only league loss of the year.
Praising the level of talent and quality coaching that the other nine teams in Class AA have, Dalfonso said before his team can think about repeating as sectional champs they have to focus on the process of getting better each day and taking care of business within the division.
Recalling their spring training trip to Dodger Town in Vero Beach, Florida three seasons ago, Dalfonso explained how everyone was so wrapped up in that trip that, for whatever reason, once they came back home they weren’t able to maintain that same energy and excitement and underachieved in the regular season. It was then that Dalfonso swore that he would always be focused on keeping his team’s eyes on the next step and not looking too far ahead.
“The mood that I’m setting right now is that we haven’t even talked about it,” he said.
“We leave a week from (Monday April 3) to go down to Florida for spring training and we’ve hardly even talked about it. Because the goal is not the Florida trip. The goal is to win every inning. That’s what we’re really trying to do. Not looking down the road. Any team can sneak up and beat you.”
Returning six starters from that team obviously has the Legends looking good on paper. But Dalfonso says just as vital as the experience of winning is the fact that h
Leading the way for Lancaster will be seniors LG Castillo and Collin Refermat.
The South-Paw Refermat will be a mainstay of the starting rotation who will be headed to UB. While Castillo, who has committed to played for DI University of Oklahoma, returns to center field. Castillo, who is a three-sport standout, is virtually a lock to hear his name called at this year’s MLB draft.
Junior pitcher Max Giordano is another key starter back who will take on a greater role.
The Legends also return senior middle infielders Domenic Monte and Connor Duck (2B), as well as left fielder Kevin Walter.
“I think the sky is the limit with this group, but like I said one of the toughest things to do is to win when you are supposed to win,” Dalfonso said. “I keep emphasizing the point that there are some great teams and some great coaches out there. Obviously they’ve got us circled as having all of these people back, but you’ve still have to go out and execute.”