Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Monticello’s new baseball coach Mike Greco couldn’t be happier about taking over a program that’s coming off a turbulent season but is loaded with young talent. The team was so eager to start practicing outside, they took to the school parking lot.
Greco is MHS'
new baseball coach
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO April 2, 2013 Monticello's varsity baseball team has a new coach and some lofty goals for the upcoming season.
In December, the school district named Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation head Mike Greco as its new varsity baseball head coach. The position has been open since last May when popular former coach Mike Marra resigned late in the season amidst controversy over his treatment of an injured player. Athletic director Doug Murphy served as interim coach for the team’s remaining games after Marra left.
"Mike's a Monticello alumni and his heart has always been here with the school,” said Murphy. “He works with a lot of the village’s kids and makes a great mentor. He played ball here and like I said, his heart is here at Monticello High. He's been looking forward to this job for a while now and it's much deserved.
“I'm really happy and comfortable with Mike as our varsity baseball coach. He's gonna do a great job with some great kids."
With just two seniors, 10 juniors and two freshmen, Greco no stranger to controversy after his recent two-week suspension as Parks and Recreation head inherits a very young team. But like his new players, Greco is looking forward to the prospects of a successful season.
"No doubt it's a young team on paper, but it's not a young team in the sense that they've been here and aren't a bit in awe of playing at this level," said Greco, who has been forced to hold his first outdoor practices in the school parking lot. “With Andrew [Krotje] and Jake [Jacob McLachlan] I've got two seniors I know will lead, but my juniors are all very strong. Best of all I've got just a great group of kids."
Greco is in a nice position with a five-man pitching rotation consisting of senior Ben Kapito, junior Dustin Thomas, Krotje, junior Anthony Bell and freshman Michael Conavo.
“I’m confident these guys can step in and pitch with anyone anytime,” said Greco. “This has to be the deepest rotation ever seen in Monticello."
A quick survey of his players seems to support Greco's sentiment. "I'd have to say our strength this season is going to be the pitching," offered Kapito. "We want to win more games this season than last [when they were 7-12], but more importantly we want to come together as a team. I think coach Greco will afford us that opportunity.”
Krotje, one of two seniors Greco will be looking to for leadership this season, is not only eyeing post-season play this season, but victories. “"Win sectional games, that's what we want,” said Krotje, who has already signed to play at SUNY Canton next year. “ We have the pitching to do it this season and I think coach Greco is doing a great job. He pushes us to be better. If not we have to run. We have a really good team this season, but I'd say our strength is our pitching."
Freshman second baseman/shortstop Shawn Jackson agrees but sees other strengths as well, offering, "We do have a great rotation this season, but I don't want people to forget that we've got a very good and disciplined infield as well." As far as the teams goals this season, Jackson affirmed, "We have to make sectionals this season and we have to have a good record to do that. Of course we want to win some or all of those sectional games too. I’m really psyched about this team, though."
Junior Jack Drapkin lauded the team's "strong lineup," and said, "We have at least four very solid pitchers. I think we'll make it to sectionals this season, which would mean so much to us because that'd be a first for this class and we've been playing together a while now."
As far as their new coach, the team seems to be happy with the choice and Greco says they're [himself and his team] are jelling quite quickly.
"I think he's [Greco] just a great guy and coach, and after what happened last season, it's just great to have the stability and camaraderie we seem to have right now," said Kapito.
As for Greco, who insisted this story be about his players rather than about him, he reiterated, "These are just some of the best kids I've ever been involved with. Not a bad apple in this bunch. I think we've got the tools. We've got the pitching, we're deep in the middle infield. If we hit, we win."