Viera baseball has plenty of offense, depth


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Carson Janssen, left, Eric Allen, Joe Veltri, Luke Brown, Andrew Brait and Brady Janssen are seniors on the Viera High School baseball team. They are motivated to have a successful season. Senior Connor Leary is not pictured.

CARL KOTALA

On a team loaded with seven seniors, the Viera High baseball team certainly isn’t lacking for motivation this season.

Take senior captains Andrew “Bammer” Brait and Connor Leary.

“It’s our last year we’re going to be playing together,” Brait said. “We’ve played together since we were 11. We really want to win.”

While the Hawks certainly have plenty of veteran leadership this season, they will also have a lot of depth … and a potent offense to go with it.

Brait will once again be at shortstop, but Leary will miss the early part of the season recovering from an injury. In his place will likely be true freshman Edian Espinal, who already is turning heads with his defensive play.

Brady Janssen, who played third base last season, could move to first base where he would share time with Liam Samuels and Bill Moser.

Third base would then go to Zach Taylor or Ethan Huffman.

The outfield candidates include Aiden Davis, Joe Veltri, Luke Brown, Jake Vermeire, JT Smith and Carson Janssen.

Starting at catcher will be Alan Espinal or Declan McDermott.

“We’ve got to put our best nine guys out there defensively, but our priority is definitely going to be swinging the stick,” Hawks coach Bob Doty said. “We’ve got a chance to be really good offensively if we can really lengthen that lineup out.”

Scoring runs likely won’t be a problem for the Hawks this season. As always, it will come down to pitching.

Junior Christian Stubbendeck, who struck out 17 batters in 10 innings last season before getting hurt, is expected to anchor a staff that should include Moser, Tyler Madl and Jake Moldrem among others.

Brady Janssen believes the Hawks have what it takes to go far, especially if they can get off to a quick start.

“I think (the outlook is) really good, especially with the experiences of last year,” he said. “We got off to a really slow start last year, so we can use what we learned to get off to a quick start this year.

“I think we’re just as talented as last year, so if we get off to a quick start, there’s no reason why we can’t be better than last year.”

With a schedule that includes tough road games at Rockledge, Vero Beach and IMG Academy, the Hawks will certainly be tested before their district tournament.

“We play 16 of our 25 games (at home), but you’ve got to know that if you win your district, or you’re the runner-up and advance, you’re going to have to play on the road,” Doty said. “We wanted to play some state-championship caliber teams on the road. You can’t play everybody at home.”