Parity is a term that is often overused in sports to describe a few teams that have a chance to win a particular competition.
FCIAC baseball is one league where the term can legitimately be applied.
Four teams --Danbury, Trumbull, Staples and Fairfield Ludlowe-- have won FCIACs the last four years, and seven teams have taken the crown in the past 10 seasons. The Wreckers have been in the mix for the last decade under the guidance of coach Jack McFarland, and balance remains the theme of the league once again this season.
"Seventeen of the 19 teams in the FCIAC can beat you on any given day," The ninth-year coach said. "Everyone has a good baseball team; it's a shark tank. "You have to do everything you can to get an edge or separate yourself; whether it's trying to get more swings, ground balls, or work in the Field House when it's raining."
Staples went 14-11 to earn spots in the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments last season. The Wreckers graduated first baseman Bryan Terzian, third baseman Eli Andrew and outfielders James Frusciante, Alex Ludel and Matt Smith. Staples also lost top pitchers Chris Speer and Greg Salamone.
Despite the losses, the Wreckers return a good amount of experience.
Adam Dulsky and Noah Yokoi will split time between catcher and designated hitter, and the duo will be a serious threat in the middle of the lineup, according to McFarland.
On the mound, Staples should have a deep staff capable of dealing with the condensed nature of the FCIAC and state playoffs. Seniors Rob Vallone (4-1, 2.25 earned run average), Ryder Chasin (3-1, 2.50), Alec Johnson (four saves), and Gallanty will all pitch, as well as junior Ian Burns, among others.
Freshman Ben Casparius will also be in the mix in the field and on the mound for the Wreckers.
"(Casparius) is going to bring a live arm," McFarland said. "Coming off third base, he's going to bring a real good bat, be a real good defensive player and a fast runner. He's going to make an immediate impact for us."
Vallone will start on Friday in the season opener against Danbury. The pitching depth will be called upon early as the Wreckers play five games in seven days to start the season.
"The main strength for us is going to be our pitching," Ellinwood said. "We have three or four seniors coming back from last year that were very successful. We also have other new guys; our depth in pitching is going to be big for us."
The goal this year for Staples remains the same; to be playing meaningful baseball in late May and early June.
"These kids are all great self-motivators, we have great senior leadership," McFarland said. "Their goals are high; the expectations are high here every year."