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Spring Sports Preview: Briarcliff Baseball

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – The Briarcliff Bears enter the 2012 season with lofty expectations.

The 2011 New York State Class B runners-up return five starting seniors and three starting juniors, including two pitchers. But senior catcher Colin Orr said the Bears need to start smaller.

“A lot of people like to mention the word ‘states’ because we went last year, but realistically we have a lot to accomplish before that,” Orr said. “So I think we should start, main goal be a league title and then get a good seed for sections and take a section title and then maybe we can mention the word ‘states.’”

Briarcliff lost to Chenango Valley, 7-4, in the state championship game last June.

If the Bears make it to the postseason, as many expect them to, Orr said they have something that will give them an edge.

“I think the experience of knowing how to win in the playoffs. I think the past two years, we’ve won 10 playoff games combined,” Orr said. “So I think being there and being able to win in May and June really helps us.”

Senior first baseman and pitcher Paul Henshaw said the Bears have a few hidden weapons in their batting order.

“We’ve definitely got a great lineup. There are a lot of kids last year that were on the bench that nobody saw that can hit the ball,” Henshaw said. “We’ve also got an additional hitter in Asa Barkan from Croton. So our think our lineup is going to be something to fear this year.”

Both Orr and senior third basemen John Fussell said the defense will be a point of strength for the Bears this season. Orr added that the switch to BBCOR bats will make the games more defensive, which should play to Briarcliff’s advantage.

Fussell said the Bears should not have a problem putting the ball in play, either.

“We’re all doing what we need to do. When we’re not practicing, we’re down here hitting in our free periods. After practice, we’re all working,” Fussell said.

Fussell and the Bears know the expectations will be high this year, but he is confident Briarcliff can accomplish its goals.

“As long as we keep doing what we need to do, I think we’ll be able to meet those expectations and be right back,” Fussell said.

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