BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School varsity baseball team – fresh off three-day tryouts and half a dozen practice days – will start playing its preseason games this week. “We’ve a really good group of young student athletes this year,” varsity Coach Mike Swanson said on Monday before the players began their practice inside the Bernard Parady Gymnasium.
Last year’s team ended its regular season with a 6-10 record and less than a point away from making the playoffs for the first time in nearly 10 years.
“We had a young team [and] we got better as the year went on,” Swanson said. “We were very close.”
This year — with 10 returning players — Swanson’s squad is not only a year older, but also “stronger and more mature.”
Swanson said those players retained the field techniques and drills practiced last season as muscle memory, freeing him to work on refining them this season.
“It’s second nature to them now,” the coach added. “Now it all comes down to execution and throwing strikes. It’s really just a simple game, but sometimes we make it complicated.”
Even though he has a fair idea about the pitching order and other positions on the team, the players’ versatility and their performance in the six preseason games is likely to change the roster.
“A lot is going to depend on how it goes when we get them out there on the field,” he said.
For nearly six years, Swanson said, pitching has been his squad’s greatest strength. “We won a lot of games without defense,” he recalled. “This year, we’re going to be consistent. We never walk guys.”
If field conditions permit, preseason games at home are possible at 11 a.m. on April 9 against Washington Academy and at 4 p.m. on April 11 against Penobscot Valley High School.