PITTSFIELD -- The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts baseball team will have an extremely heavy Berkshire County presence this spring.
The Trailblazers have a total of 12 local players out of 21 on their roster.
These include catcher Slayter Aubin, pitcher/first baseman Tyler Benoit, pitcher Robert Jutras and infielder/pitcher Chase Preite of Drury; pitcher Nate Alibozek of Hoosac Valley; outfielder Joe Duncan of Wahconah; infielder/pitcher Rory Slattery and infielder Ryan Shook of Taconic; and Pittsfield High School outfielder Mike Mancivalano, infielder Derek Lescarbeau, catcher/DH Christian Robitaille and outfielder/pitcher Dale Clark.
Pittsfield High School coach Bob Moynihan said he was happy to see a strong local presence on the Trailblazers' roster.
"You know, years ago [former longtime MCLA coach] Joe Zavatarro's philosophy was to have a large number of local kids on his roster up there, and it was really a good thing," said Moynihan. "I think it generates a lot of local interest in the team."
Moynihan said that he believes MCLA coach Jeff Puleri, a Lee native, has a similar philosophy.
"Yeah, it seems as though that's starting to be the case again," said Moynihan. "And I say, ‘Good for Jeff.' He's a local guy and he understands the advantages.
"It's good for the players, too," said Moynihan. "Kids from around the county know each other these days."
"Having grown up here, having played baseball here, I'm aware of the caliber of baseball that's played in Berkshire County," said Puleri. "And now we're starting to get the upper crust of the talent from [the Berkshires], and that can only help the program."
Although all 12 players are from programs that have enjoyed success in Berkshire County baseball over the past few years, whether that will translate into success at the Division III collegiate level is another question.
Last year, the ‘Blazers were 14-23 overall. This year, the team is picked to finish last in the MASCAC. They struggled in a recent trip south, going 1-7 in Florida.
The Trailblazers are a young squad, with Duncan, a member of the MASCAC All-Academic team, being the only senior on the MCLA roster.
Lescarbeau and Clark are part of a seven-player junior team, while Preite, Slattery, Mancivalano and Benoit are among the team's six sophomores. Slattery was also named a member of the MASCAC All-Academic baseball team last year.
Local freshmen include Alibozek, Jutras, Robitaille, Aubin and Shook. In fact, more than half of Puleri's roster -- 12 of 21 -- are freshmen and sophomores.
"We're really young," said Puleri. "I don't know how well we're going to do. But we have a core group of players, including those county kids, who are going to serve us well in the next few years."