Spring Season Begins with High Hopes, Few Fears

With strong pre-season training for spring sports across the board, teams are ready to mount their campaigns

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BASEBALL

After compiling a 14-13 regular season record in 2014 and losing in the first game of tournament play, varsity baseball hopes to improve their season from last year.

“In order to have a successful season, I expect our group to be more united with a lot of energy,” said junior Canyon McWilliams. “With that kind of commitment, it will help us win a lot more ball games.”

In order to improve offensively, the team will have to hit better in the clutch and drive in runners.

“I expect our team to win the conference,” said senior Sam Bistritz. “If we work hard as a unit and keep a positive mindset, we can go much further in the playoffs than last year.”

The team’s strengths this year will be pitching. Shaker has more than 10 legitimate pitchers, which should help the team maintain success throughout the season.

The Raiders will face four tough opponents during spring break in Bradenton, FL. In Ohio, Brush, Mentor and Hudson will be Shaker’s toughest rivals.

SOFTBALL

Coming off a 7-11 record and an early exit in the state tournament last year, varsity softball is ready to improve.

“My expectations for our team and our new coaching staff,” including new head coach Kristen Harter, “are to be more competitive as a team,” said junior Marisa Reape. “I believe that the players and coaches will be able to work together well so that we can have a successful and exciting season.”

The overall goal for this year will be to win their conference. In order to do so, they must improve their defense and team communication on the field. The Raiders must also replace two of their best pitchers Mia Wang and Emma Cirillo, who graduated last year.

“In order to have a successful season, we need to communicate on the field better and trust each other as well,” said junior Ella Bal.

The team will play a balanced schedule, and rival Cleveland Heights High School is one of the biggest contests of the season.

MEN’S LACROSSE 

Jason Griffith, new head coach for Shaker Heights men’s varsity lacrosse, is ready to bring the team back on the winning side of things after last year’s letdown season. Griffith has been a head coach since 2007 at high schools and colleges, at The Ohio State University (club team 2007), Western Reserve Academy High School (2009), and St. Edward High School (2013-2014) among other places.

“My expectations are very high this year,” said goalie Chip Anderson. “We have young talent and a new coaching staff. This will turn help the program around with a winning mind set through the whole season.”

The Raiders return eight starters from last year’s team, which finished with a 5-11 overall record. They had an early exit in the playoffs, losing to North Canton Hoover in the second round.

“To achieve our expectations,” said Griffith, “we as a team will have to be physically fit, mentally tough and have an attitude. The players will be as prepared as possible lacrosse-wise, but the difference will come from how much they want success.”

Hudson High School will be one of the team’s toughest opponents. To reach Columbus in June, the Raiders must be able to defeat Hudson. Shaker will also play two historically strong teams, Brother Rice and Cranbrook, during a trip to Detroit, MI. Griffith is hoping those games with the three toughest teams will prepare them for the state tournament.

WOMEN’S LACROSSE 

Coming off an 14-3-1 2014 season record and an early second round exit in the state tournament, the women’s varsity lacrosse team is optimistic about their 2015 season.

“My expectations are very high for the season,” said senior Kasidy Anderson. “I love to win and expect nothing less; we have a great coach and a lot of talent on the team.”

The Raiders will have a strong returning class from last season as well as a lot of promising young underclassmen. “In order for our team to have a successful year, that will depend on how one defines success,” said new Head Coach Tonia Porras. “I’m working with young adults, so for me the success of them growing as individuals is just as important as the success they find out on the field, on the scoreboard, and in any honors or medals we as a team achieve. In regard to success on the field a great amount of focus and commitment to putting all the skills they possess to good use is what will define us as a team.”

Porras wants her team to play lockdown defense this year, focus and have fun. The team looks forward to match-ups against Jackson, Medina and Chagrin Falls.

MEN’S TRACK & FIELD

The men’s track and field team will try to improve upon a successful 2013-2014. Senior Brian Lief and junior Justyn Moore qualified for the March 7 Indoor State Championship in the 800 and 3200 meter races respectively, as did the 4 x 800 team, while sophomore Kameron Willis qualified in Triple Jump. Head Coach Beno Watkins said in distance running, seniors James Caffrey and Louie Seguin and juniors Justyn Moore and Jonah Ricanati stood out. Juniors Dallas Botchway, Jordan Allison, Alex Loney, Jaylen Allen and Darrell Brown performed well in sprints, and in field events, sophomores Kameron Willis and Charles Calhoun and seniors Talia Sawyer and Andre Lowery achieved good times.

Last year, Brian Lief was ranked sixth in the district. Juniors Alex Loney and Khrisarean Irons placed third in the Northeast Ohio Conference.

“I’m with my teammates six days a week and we’ve grown really close,” said Lief. “[Track] is a tight-knit group of guys that supports each other on and off the track.”

WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD

With sophomore Mimi Reimers and junior Sara Mesiano returning after placing fifth and sixth in the district respectively, women’s track and field hopes for a strong season. During their indoor track off-season, Reimers and Mesiano qualified in the 3200 and 800 meter races respectively, and the 4 x 800 team qualified for the March 7 Indoor State Championships.

Coach Beno Watkins mentioned sophomores Elise Laframboise and Ally Nordstrom and freshman Sophie Carrier as distance runners to watch. For sprints, sophomore Curtshanna Robinson, junior Mekkah Husamadeen, freshman Keyonna McGill and senior Deriona Talton show promise, and seniors Hannah Heverling and Ebony Young as well as sophomore Cydney Calhoun stand out in field events.

Senior Elana Ross looks forward to her last season. “I think our team has a lot of potential this year,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the girls who have been working on the off season and the newcomers can do.”

MEN’S TENNIS

Coming off a 7-7 regular season record, finishing third in match play and tied for second in the league tournament, varsity men’s tennis is ready for an even better season in 2015.

“I have high expectations for this season,” said senior Peter Evans. “I believe we have the group of players that will be a dominant program in the area.”

A strong group of seniors will lead this year’s team, with underclassmen talent.

“In order to have successful season, we as a team will have to compete against the top teams in the area and continue to develop our talent,” said Head Coach Alan Slawson. “We want to restore Shaker tennis to the level one where we know we belong.”

“The area in which our team needs to improve on from last year will be in the doubles portion of the game,” said Slawson. “We as a group want to play a more aggressive style by coming to the net more. Our conditioning program should make us faster, more powerful, and more confident.”

Solon will provide the hardest opponent in the Northern Ohio Conference.

MEN’S & WOMEN’S CREW

According to coach Robert Valerian, Shaker crew will hit the ground running come spring.

“Shaker Varsity Crew has been working hard on conditioning and rowing technique all through the winter,” he said.
Men’s varsity co-captain Xavier Aniton is also optimistic about the team’s upcoming season.

“We have a pretty strong freshman class and a pretty strong sophomore and junior class to lead the team to a competitive season,” he said.
After a successful fall racing season, both the men’s and women’s Junior

Eight boats are expected to be strong contenders for the Midwest Scholastic Championships.

Junior varsity women’s lightweight eight did especially well at their regatta on Dillion Lake; the team earned first place overall.

Sophomore coxswain Samantha Rose said, “I had this sense of pride like we had really done it. I was so proud of the girls in my boat.”

This winter, the entire Shaker Crew team won the overall points at the Hammer Ergatta Indoor Rowing Races at Case Western Reserve University, outscoring four college crew teams.

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