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Northwest starts out title defense strong

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Published on: Thursday, March 28, 2013

By Holden Wilen

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE - Defending Maryland 4A state baseball champion Northwest High School  picked up right where it left off last year with a pair of wins to start the season.

After a comeback win on Thursday against Churchill, Northwest had no problem with Watkins Mill on Friday, earning a mercy-rule victory with after leading 13-0 thru five innings. Sophomore Joseph Brauch notched the win with three innings pitched and two strikeouts.

Offensively, Northwest was led by its trio of seniors: shortstop Scott Ardoin, second baseman J.J. Jan and catcher Michael Shannon. The trio combined to hit 4-7 with eight runs scored and four runs batted in. Head coach Todd Verasco said the seniors have shown more leadership than he could have ever expected.

“Sometimes guys, especially coming off a championship run, it’s extremely tough for these guys to come out and not say, ‘That was my year last year,’”, Verasco said. “They’ve come out 150 percent so far. I’m so pleased with what they’ve shown my younger guys. They’ve been great so far and totally outdone my expectations”

Northwest got off to quick start and led 5-0 as the first six hitters of the game reached base. The team scored another two runs in the second inning and added four more runs in the third inning.

Because of the large lead Verasco was able to give some of the younger players playing time and get them some experience which he hopes will pay off later in the season. The young players made some mistakes, Verasco said, but it is to be expected early in the season and he wants the players to learn from their mistakes.

Jan, who hit second in the lineup and scored three runs, said he thinks the team is playing well. He said he and his teammates have a “mental toughness” which he hopes will help the team get back to the state championship.

“I feel like we can go all the way,” Jan said. “We might be young, but I feel like we can handle it. We’re under the radar but I feel like we’re a strong team.”

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