Expectations are for the most part, just that. They don’t play any part in team or individual success, and often hamper the growth of a club or player because of the pressure to always do better than last year.
In the case of the South Lewis baseball team and its junior star, Jason Martin, equalling what the Falcons did a year ago will be very difficult, even though Martin leads an experienced and talented cast that went 20-3, captured Frontier League and Section 3 Class C titles and came within a win of the state Final Four.
The target is now squarely on the Falcons’ back. Both Martin and coach Chad Brown said staying grounded and playing consistent baseball will help South Lewis remain focused.
“We have to live for the moment and concentrate on the job at hand,” said Martin, a returning Times All-North first-teamer who shines both on the mound and at the plate. “The key is, can we keep motivating ourselves to get better and not be satisfied with what we did last season?”
For Brown, it’s not looking beyond the inning being played. “We try to focus on fundamentals anyway, so doing that this season will be really important even though we have a lot of experience,” he said.
Having a two-way player like Martin doesn’t hurt. Last season, Martin emerged as one of the area’s top players as just a sophomore. This season, he’s being counted on to take his game to an even higher level.
“I believe Jason has just scratched the surface of where his game can eventually go,” Brown said. “He’s just a wonderful kid who will do absolutely anything you ask.”
As the ace of the South Lewis staff in 2012, Martin went 6-1 with a 1.12 earned run average in 50 innings of work. He struck out 78, walked just 14 and allowed only eight earned runs.
He began the 2013 season Tuesday in spectacular fashion by tossing a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts in an 8-0 victory at Thousand Islands.
Martin said his arm is usually a little sore at this point in the season. “But it felt really strong (yesterday), and I could throw most of my pitches where I wanted to,” he said.
Brown said Martin is throwing a lot harder this season because he’s gotten stronger. “He’s a big kid with a big arm,” he said. “Jason has developed a nice two-seam fastball that drops about a foot, and he’s throwing some change-ups. He’s also been able to throw his curve ball for strikes, so he can get you out with a lot of different pitches.”
Martin said his main goal as a pitcher this year “is to stay down in the zone more often, and hit my spots more frequently. Just be more consistent with all of my pitches, and not make mistakes when I get the ball up.”
At the plate, Martin is coming off a superb season in which he batted .392 with 21 runs scored and 17 runs batted in.
“The key for Jason is if he stays balanced and doesn’t get out on the front foot,” Brown said. “He’s so strong that he can hit the ball to any field if he’s under control.”
Martin said: “Staying patient at the plate is the key. If I can sit and wait for the pitch, then I can drive it a lot better.”
When he isn’t pitching, Martin is the Falcons’ shortstop. Brown said he’s got good hands “but sometimes he gets a little careless with the routine balls. We’d like him to be a little more consistent.”
The Falcons went to Myrtle Beach again this spring vacation for a little team bonding and to get in some actual game action prior to the start of the Frontier League season.
“It’s a good experience because we get to actually play on a field and do some live hitting,” Martin said. “We also learn to trust each other by spending so much time together.”
Something that should help Martin and his Falcons possibly exceed expectations.
Here is a look at the Frontier League this season:
Outlook: Watertown has dominated the last two seasons, winning back-to-back league championships. But the Cyclones return only four starters, and have as inexperienced a pitching staff as they’ve had in a long time. However, with two of the top players in the league in All-North catcher Josh Belch and first baseman Ryan Bajjaly, coach Matt Covey starts strong and has a good group of young players who will contribute. The battle will likely be for second spot. Carthage has some veteran talent, led by Dylan James, Andrew Smith and Danny Granger, while Immaculate Heart Central and Indian River both feature basically underclass rosters looking for some consistency.
Coach: Joe Sech (7th year, 40-68).
2012 record: 5-13 overall, 2-8 league.
Players to watch: Dylan James; Andrew Smith; Ryan Clemons; Dan Granger.
Roster: Nicholas Bigelow, Jr. P-OF; Brandon Bush, Sr., P-OF; Tyler Clemons, Jr., OF; Matt Draper, Jr., OF; Robert Flint, Jr, IF; Lane Fontaine, Sr., OF; Dan Granger, Sr., P-IF; Dylan James, Jr., C; Devin Meyers, Sr., P-IF; Shane Michael, Jr., IF; Denny Montanez, Jr., IF; Ryan Pete, Jr., IF; Andrew Smith, Jr., P-IF; Cody Spencer, Jr., IF; Jacob Walls, Jr., P-C-OF.
Coach: Mike Delaney
2012 record: 9-7, 5-5.
Players to watch: Jude Fusilli; Robin Massey; Miles Sexton; Austyn Frechette.
Roster: Jude Fusilli, Jr., SS; Jake Fusilli, Fr., 1B-OF; Louie Freda, Sr., P-1B; Josh Frechette, So., OF; Joshua Navarra, Fr., P-OF; David Brancheau, Jr., 2B; Taylor Campanaro, Jr., 3B-LF; Noah Murrock, Jr., OF; Spencer Sharlow, Jr., C-OF; Joseph Fay, Sr., P-1B-OF; Robin Massey, Jr., P-CF; Miles Sexton, Jr., C-OF; Jaden Grill, Sr., OF; Cyrus Beckman, Jr., P-2B-OF; Austyn Frechette, Jr., P-3B; Vincenzo Alteri, 8th, SS.
Indian River Warriors
Coach: Kevin Smith (2nd year, 3-9).
2012 record: 3-9, 2-8.
Players to watch: Kody Smith; Edward Malinoski; Daniel Angelo; Brady Bombard.
Roster: Daniel Angelo, Jr., IF; Joshua Barbrow, Jr.; Brady Bombard, Sr., IF-OF; Kyle Bresett, Jr.; Cody Davis, Jr.; William Eichner, So.; Adam Gagnon, Jr.; Dale Kirkby, Jr.; Andrew Klingler, Jr.; Zachary LaForest-Hurd, So.; Edward Malinoski, So. (IF); Evan Morine, Jr.; Gary Ruckman, So.; Brett Shippee, Sr.; Kody Smith, Sr., C; Alex Whetstone, Sr.
Coach: Matt Covey (6th year, 77-29).
2012 record: 16-6, 10-0.
Players to watch: Josh Belch; Ryan Bajjaly; Jared Bellinger.
Roster: Nick Hosmer, Jr., OF; Jared Bellinger, So., P-IF; Nick Lavin, Fr., C-IF; Christian Jorden, Jr., P-IF; Kenny Schimpf, So., P-OF; Steven Hatchell, Jr., OF; Killian LaDue, Jr., OF; Sam Maphey, Sr., P-OF; Collin Jorden, Jr., P-IF; Joshua Belch, Sr., C; Ryan Bajjaly, Sr., IF; Jorden Salyers, Jr., OF; Josh Patterson, Jr., OF; Danny Castaneda, Sr., OF.
Outlook: With last year’s regular-season champion, Lowville, gone to the “C” Division for a year, this division is up for grabs. South Jefferson, under new head coach Joe Vaadi, may be a step above the others with a strong front-line pitcher in Logan LaFlamme. General Brown has a strong senior contingent, led by Erik Wollum and Peter Will, and coach Mike Hartle really likes his sophomore class. Altmar-Parish-Williamstown makes its league swan song trying to make some progress from a 3-11 season a year ago.
Coach: Ryan Cobb (7th year, 37-68).
2012 record: 5-13, 3-11.
Players to watch: Steve Isabell; Tylor Skellington; Ronnnie Priest.
Roster: Steve Isabell, Sr., P-C-OF; Jason Bristol, So., P-C-OF; Austin Appleby, So., P-IF-OF; Jason Mahar, Sr., OF; Kyler Sheehan, Jr., P- C-OF; Liam Dolan, Jr., IF; Tim Kellogg, Jr., IF-OF; Zach Dennison, Jr., OF; Tylor Skellington, Sr., P-IF; Ronnie Priest, Sr., P-SS; Ty Christian, Jr., P-IF; Cole Pappa, Jr., C-1B; Anthony Mosher, Sr., 1B-OF.
General Brown Lions
Coach: Mike Hartle (3rd year, 17-15).
2012 record: 7-11, 6-8.
Players to watch: Nolan Pitkin; Erik Wollum; Jordan Schofield; Peter Will.
Roster: Dylan Daughen, Jr., 1B-OF; Jared Christopher, Jr., OF; Mark Corey, So., P-2B; Ryan Ellis, So., P-SS; Corey Gaffney, Sr., OF; Thomas Gerstenschlager, So., C; Matt Grant, Sr., OF; Nolan Pitkin, Sr., P-3B; Kyle Salaun, Sr., 2B-OF; Jordan Schofield, Sr., 1B; Ryan Snow, Jr., OF; Derek Weaver, So., 3B; Peter Will, Sr., P-SS; Erik Wollum, Sr., P-OF; Ryan Wurtz, Sr., C-OF.
South Jefferson Spartans
Coach: Joe Vaadi (1st year).
2012 record: 11-9, 8-6.
Players to watch: Logan LaFlamme; Marcus Shelmidine; Jake Perry.
Roster: Cody Jones, Sr., OF; Cameron Heasley, Sr., IF; Cody Modlin, Jr., P-IF; Ryan Broadhurst, Sr., P; Marcus Shelmidine, Sr., IF; Connor Dillon, Jr., OF; Jayson Kellogg, Jr., C-IF; Dustin Sanford, Jr., C; Logan Jones, Jr., P-OF; Hunter Gillett, Jr., P-OF; Brendon Cataldo, Jr., OF; Logan LaFlamme, Jr., P-IF; Grae Haldemann, Sr., C; Jake Perry, Sr., P-IF; Bradon Lloyd, Sr., P-IF.
Outlook: Start with defending league and Section 3 Class C champion South Lewis, which returns most of its top players, including junior star Jason Martin, and has its sights set on a return to the state tournament. Beaver River, with top pitcher Samuel Widrick back on the mound, figures to give the Falcons a run again. Thousand Islands and Sandy Creek both have veteran-laden teams that will need to find some consistent pitching to put forth a challenge. Lowville is by far the youngest team in the division, with just one senior, so the Red Raiders just hope to make steady progress.
Beaver River Beavers
Coach: Matt Lyndaker (5th year, 43-37).
2012 record: 12-7, 11-5.
Players to watch: Samuel Widrick; Erik Lyndaker; Seth Lapp; Corey Stevens.
Roster: Jordan Boliver, Sr., OF; Brandon DeLong, Sr., 1B; Tarren Farney, Sr., IF; Kaelyn Ferguson, Jr.; Matthew Johnson, Sr., OF; Trevor Kempney, Jr.; Seth Lapp, Sr., P-3B; Erik Lyndaker, Jr., C; Dustin Neddo, Jr.; Dylan Pate, Jr.; Kyle Steiner, Jr.; Corey Stevens, Sr., SS; Christian Widrick, So; Samuel Widrick, Sr., P-IF; Gordon Zehr, Sr..
Lowville Red Raiders
Coach: Dan Myers (12th year, 138-99).
2012 record: 14-5, 11-3.
Players to watch: Curtis Lehman; Kyle Malik; Jordan Arthur; William Larkins.
Roster: Curtis Lehman, Sr., P; Kyle Malik, Jr., 1B-OF; Ryan Rubenzahl, Jr., IF; Connor Fayle, So., P-1B; William Larkins, Jr., IF-OF; Melvin Zehr, Jr., OF; Devin Nasworthy, Jr., P; Cody Branagan, Jr., C; Jordan Arthur, So., P-OF; Dylan Roes, Jr., SS; Ian Collins, So., IF; Ryan Wood, Fr., OF-OF; .
Sandy Creek Comets
Coach: Ben Archibee (8th year, 67-66).
2012 record: 8-10, 8-8.
Players to watch: Mason McNitt; Alex Lococo; Wyatt Bush.
Roster: Wyatt Bush, Sr., IF-OF; Mitch Garvin, Sr., IF; Kameron Goodsell, Sr., IF; Alex Lococo, Sr., IF; Mason McNitt, Sr., C-IF; Tyler Reff, Sr., OF; Ben Sheppard, Sr., OF; Steven Smith, Sr., IF; Tyler VanRy, Sr., OF; Dylan Anthony, Jr., IF-OF; Zach Brown, Jr., IF-OF; Shane Rowell, Jr., IF; Jarod Williams, Jr., IF; Zac Akey, Fr., IF.
South Lewis Falcons
Coach: Chad Brown (3rd year, 28-14).
2012 record: 20-3, 14-2.
Players to watch: Jason Martin; Shawn Loomis; Dominic Ventura; Lucas Kelly; Hunter Jones.
Roster: Cody Capron, Jr., C-IF-OF; Hunter Jones, Sr., P-IF; Jason Martin, Jr., P-SS; Lucas Kelly, Jr., C-IF-OF; Dylan Marolf, Sr., P-OF; Wyatt Marolf, So., P-IF; Nathan Pleskach, So., P-IF; Nick Ripp, Jr., OF; Dominick Ventura, Sr., OF; Joshua Wheeler, Jr., P-OF; Jake Vanbeber.
Thousand Islands Vikings
Coach: Shannon Amo (6th year, 57-52).
2012 record: 9-9, 9-7.
Players to watch: Reed Donnelly; Cameron Robbins; Matt Julian; Austin Bach.
Roster: Reed Donnelly, Sr., P-IF; Cameron Robbins, Sr., P-IF; Matt Julian, Sr., Sr., P-C; Austin Bach, Jr., P-IF; Mike Pena, Sr., OF; Morgan Earp, Jr., IF-OF; Chase Boyer, Jr., OF; Brentyn Horton, Jr., OF; Sam Ada, Jr.; Tom Stevenson, Jr.; Bennitt Donnelly, So, I/F; .
Outlook: Sackets Harbor figured to be the team to beat again until No. 1 pitcher Ryan Allen was lost for the season with a lingering injury. Still, the Patriots have some firepower and perhaps enough pitching depth to survive and win again. Copenhagen will be competitive again with seven returning starters, while Alexandria may continue to surprise after a strong bounce-back season a year ago.
Alexandria Purple Ghosts
Coach: Cory Edgar (2nd year, 7-11).
2012 record: 7-11, 6-8.
Players to watch: Dylan Delosh; Zach Walti; Caleb Wills; Miles Kearns.
Roster: Dylan Delosh, Jr., P-3B; Zach Walti, Sr., P-OF; Caleb Wills, Sr, P-OF; Miles Kearns, Fr., P-C, IF; Colby Hunter, Jr., 1B; Bryn Erck, Sr., C-OF; Caleb Utterback, Sr., OF; Ed Roberts, Sr.; Kien Trinh, Jr.; Roy Yi, Jr; Ryan Tebo, Fr.; Maverick Hunter, Fr.; Jeremy Johnson, Fr.
Belleville Henderson Panthers
Coach: Ron Whitney (6th year, 23-54).
2012 record: 3-12, 3-11.
Players to watch: Tyler Bast; Colton Ramsdell; Kyle Hallett.
Roster: Charlie Moore, Sr., P-3B; Kykle Hallett, Sr., OF; Matt Glowfeskie, Sr., P-SS; Tyler Bast, Jr., P-ss-3B; Jamez Lashway-Voytko, Jr., C-OF; Alan Disbro, Jr., OF; Jake Allen, Jr., IF; Colton Ramsdell, So., P-SS-3B; Conrad Gehrke, So., 1B-OF; Keito Meguro, So., IF; Nick Neddo, So., IF; Tom Desormeau, So., P-C-OF; Jordan Shepard, So., OF; Brendan Moore, So. P-2B; James Illingwoirth, So., IF; Trevor Countryman, So., C-OF; Tyler David, So., P-OF.
Copenhagen Golden Knights
Coach: Jim Spaulding (14th year, 165-93).
2012 record: 9-8, 8-6.
Players to watch: Kody Petrus; Logan Marolf; Antonio Figueroa; Brandon Selley.
Roster: Logan Marolf, Sr., P-OF; Jake Nadelen, Sr., IF; Antonio Figueroa, So., IF; Kody Petrus, Sr., P-IF; Brandon Selley, Sr., OF; Derek Sullivan, Sr., C-UT; Greg Kunert, Jr., UT; Brandon Moser, Jr., IF; Abdullah Al Bana’s, Sr., OF; Nasthan Freeman, So., UT..
LaFargeville Red Knights
Coach: Bret Robbins (5th year, 10-49).
2012 record: 2-13, 2-12.
Players to watch: Matt Valin; Matt Strader; Kelly Ryan; Ethan Johnson.
Roster: Matt Strader, Sr.; Eljah Huntley, Sr.; Will Foisey, Jr.; Mark Braw, Jr.; Colton Klock, So.; Matt Valin, So.; Kelly Ryan, So.; Dillon Foote, So.; Tavis Anderson, Fr.; Ethan Johnson, Fr.; Thomas O’Driscall, Fr.; Roy Haltori, Fr.; Austin Davis, Fr..
Coach: Mark Wilson (2nd year, 2-12).
2012 record: 2-12.
Players to watch: Gunnar Blank; Kody Goutremout; Forrest Stafford; Christian Sanford; Troy Wilson.
Roster: Gunnar Blank, P-3B; Kody Goutremout, 1B; Forrest Stafford, P; Christian Sanford, P-OF; Troy Wilson, P-SS; Caden Sanford, P.; Shane Millington, Ut.; Joe Paladino, P-UT; Donovan Marchiony, C; Darius Gamel; Tyler Davis; Austin Harvey; Riley Schwind; Patrick Thompson.
Sackets Harbor Patriots
Coach: Paul Gibbs (9th year, 88-57).
2012: 15-4, 12-2.
Players to watch: Billy Newcombe; Josh Keruski; Colton Belcher; Ethan Meeks.
Roster: Billy Newcombe, Sr., P-C; Josh Keruski, Jr., P-IF; Colton Belcher, So., P-IF; Ethan Meeks, So., P-IF-OF; Dakota Brown, So., OF; Seth Phillips, Jr., OF; Gino Santamarina, Jr., UT.; Kyle Roy, Jr., OF; Shawn Cuddleback, Jr., C-UT; Dommick Derrigo, Jr., UT; Narek Sukiasyan, Jr., OF; Chase Urbanowicz, Fr., P-IF; Alex Keegan, 8th, P-IF-OF.