PITTSFIELD — Abdiel Cotto looks around the Taconic High School gymnasium and smiles when a reporter asks him the question.
Just what is it like to be the only senior on the Taconic baseball team?
"I would have never believed it, honestly," said Cotto.
The Taconic senior isn't just the only senior in coach Kevin Stannard's starting lineup, but he's the only senior on the Taconic varsity.
"I think it's a big role for me, to show them how we've done it for the last couple of years," said Cotto. "How the other seniors have taught me."
When Stannard gave his starting lineup out the other day, it consisted of Cotto, sophomore infielder Drew DeMartino, and the other seven are juniors.
"I think they grew up and they really came together in the second half last year," Stannard said of his crop of juniors. "I think they understood that it was a different type of ball game at the varsity level. This year, nothing is going to be taken for granted.
"They have a bulls eye in the way they finished the year, what they did over the summer. They did a lot of work in the off-season, and I think they know where they want to be."
Many of the juniors in the Taconic starting lineup, along with DeMartino, were members of the Pittsfield team that won the New England Babe Ruth 15-year old championship and advanced to the World Series in Lawrenceville, Tenn.
"We got a lot of confidence and experience from the trip," said Taconic's Anthony Whiteley, part of the World Series team. "We played in front of a lot of coaches and a lot of great players.
"We have a lot of faith in each other too. The chemistry boosted from last year."
Izaiya Mestre will be in the starting lineup in Taconic's opener, scheduled for today at Hoosac Valley. He said that playing last year, alongside seniors Dan Carroll, Josh Berthiaume and Kevin Squires, helped boost their confidence and that continues to grow.
"We haven't really won anything in high school yet," said Mestre. "It definitely gives us confidence going into high school with the same team basically.
"We're pretty confident. We still have to do the work. It's not going to be handed to us."
Stannard used the term "bulls eye" when talking about his junior-loaded team. Mestre was asked that as juniors, did this feel like a so-called bridge year to next spring when they're all seniors? Did it feel like a lot is expected of them?
"A lot of people are expecting us to do great. The Taconic baseball program is known for being successful," said Whiteley. "We're just trying to build a legacy and just keep winning games."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.