There’s a good chance the Prep could be ranked No. 1 in the state if they beat Xaverian, though they have a tough game against North Shore rival Peabody on the road Saturday afternoon. The Tanners also open with Xaverian today, so there is no shortage of heavyweight showdowns early on.
“We’re all excited,” Bingel said. “We see the rankings and those things, but we won’t think too much of it. We know on paper is one thing and on the field could be another.”
The Tanners have never failed to win at least a share of the NEC Large title, though they’re reloading this year with new starters at catcher, shortstop and center field. There will be no sympathy from league rivals for Peabody, which could draw from a supremely talented sophomore class.
“All these kids know it’s been seven (titles) in a row for us. There’s no hiding that and they’re motivated to keep it going,” said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt. “Our league is pretty tough top to bottom, so you have to show up every day.”
Expectations for Peabody’s ace Pat Ruotolo are sky high. The UConn commit threw three no-hitters last season and had scoreless innings streaks of 22 and 34 frames while striking out 130 batters.
“We don’t want to put added pressure on Pat,” said Bettencourt. “He’s a focused, competitive kid and he’s going to take it one start at a time. He won’t have crazy expectations of himself; he’s just going to go out and compete.”
Good luck sorting out preseason rankings in the NEC Large. Division 1 North quarterfinalist Lynn English returns a solid nucleus led by Vanderbilt commit Ben Bowden. Lynn Classical has a Division 1 player in catcher Kyle Devin (Stony Brook) and it’s impossible to overlook Beverly, led by four great captains in Anthony DiOrio, Cam Rogers, Alex Toomey and Harry Brown.