Pitching the key for St. John’s Prep

St. John’s Prep coach Dan Letarte helms another baseball program this spring. The Eagles host Walpole Thursday at 4 p.m. Photo by Item File Photo

DANVERS — St. John’s Prep’s baseball season officially begins Thursday when it hosts Walpole at 4 p.m. Head coach Dan Letarte said the focus is on pitching, and believes that will be the key for the Eagles to find success.

“I think it is one of our strengths this season,” Letarte said. “Hopefully, if we can just throw strikes and avoid walks, and keep the ball in play, that will play a major part in our season.”

The Eagles have young pitchers all the way down the roster, and you don’t have to look much further than Joe Williams.

“Joe Williams got a lot of time as a sophomore pitcher last year, so he’ll be one of our top pitchers this season,” Letarte said.

Williams aside, and whether they’re veterans or just stepping onto the diamond for the first time, the depth is beyond impressive.

“There are some young pitchers that are sophomores emerging. They’ve done really well in our scrimmages so far,” Letarte said. “In addition, we have some older guys on the mound also competing. Our pitching so far has been good.”

Letarte said he’s been impressed with Jack Sarno, a 6-foot-3 pitcher who wasn’t on varsity last season.

“A big surprise from the first few weeks of practice is Sarno. He’s back this year and he should be competing on the mound,” Letarte said.

The Eagles also have key returners in Cam LaGrassa and Aidan Driscoll.

“Cam is a shortstop committed to Brown University and he’s one of our top hitters. Last year, he was fighting a few different injuries throughout the season. Now, he’s healthy, which is great for us,” Letarte said.

On Driscoll, who’s a University of Maryland commit and catcher, Letarte said it’s big to have him back behind the plate.

“Everyone’s working hard competing for playing time. Overall, I’m happy with how hard the kids are working,” Letarte said.

Prep lost 12 seniors to graduation, but Letarte isn’t using that as an excuse.

“They were a good crew, but it happens,” Letarte said. “I’m really happy with the whole team… this is probably the most sophomores I have carried on varsity.”

When asked about some goals he has in mind, Prep is taking things “one game at a time” according to Letarte.

Prep finished last season with a 13-8 record, and lost in the first round of the state tournament.

“Obviously we want to take the next step and go further this year,” Letarte said.