Prep Baseball Report

2024 Spring Team Preview: St. John's Shrewsbury (MA)

Bruce Hefflinger
New England Senior Writer

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2024 Spring Team Preview: St. John's Shrewsbury (MA)

SHREWSBURY, Ma. - With seven starters along with the top two starting pitchers returning from a state semifinal team in 2023, it is understandable how first-year Saint John’s Shrewsbury head coach Casey Cummins is optimistic when it comes to this season.

“This group had the experience of a deep tournament run last season and have been committed to returning to that point and even further this season,” noted Cummins, a 2008 Shrewsbury graduate who coached in various capacities at the collegiate level before serving as head coach at Sutton High School from 2019-23. “We have a great group of players who understand and embrace our expectations and these team goals.”

Like with most great programs, it starts in two key areas.

“Our strengths are our starting pitching and our defense,” noted Cummins, who led Sutton to the state tournament each year as head coach at the school, reaching the MIAA Elite 8 Round in 2022. “We have many starters returning who take pride in the defensive aspect of their games which allow our starting pitching to attack hitters with confidence in who is behind them.”

Seniors Noah Basgaard and Brady Shea are expected to lead the way on the mound this season for the Pioneers. A Stonehill commit, Basgaard is the 28th-ranked 2024 right-handed pitcher in New England while Shea, a Salve Regina signee, is the 22nd-rated senior left-handed hurler in New England. Basgaard was 7-1 with one save and a 3.06 ERA last season, striking out 37 in 43.1 innings. Shea led the team in innings pitched with 63.1, compiling a 6-2 record with two saves, 53 strikeouts and a 2.10 ERA.

More help on the mound is expected to come from senior Thomas Papagni and juniors Brayden Mercier, Jack Forgues and Zaid Moghrabi. Papagni is a southpaw committed to Saint Anselm and Mercier is also a lefty, while Forgues and Moghrabi are right-handers. Mercier also plays outfield while Forgues is the 11th-ranked 2025 third baseman in New England. The left-handed hitting Mercier batted .254 with nine RBIs and 12 runs scored last season while Forgues averaged .286 with 11 RBIs and tallied 10 runs.

“We will definitely rely on our strong pitching staff and understand that we will need to do

whatever it takes on offense to win on a daily basis,” explained Cummins, who is taking over for Charlie Eppinger, the winningest coach in school history (289-121) who stepped down after 18 seasons at the helm.

Juniors Andrew Schmit and Desmond Hayeck will join Mercier in the Shrewsbury outfield. Schmit is the 18th-ranked and Hayeck the 51st-ranked 2025 outfielder in New England.

Sophomores Conor Secrist and Jamie Herlihy are others being counted on to play key roles this year for a team that lost catcher James Benestad (.318, 16 RBIs, Endicott), OF/RHP Brady Collins (.250, 12 RBIs, 25 IP, 2.80 ERA, Bentley) and middle infielder Jimmy Mitchell (.263, 12 RBIs, Bentley) to graduation. Secrist will play shortstop and Herlihy second base

“Our program has a tradition of success while competing in Massachusetts’ highest division,” Cummins said about Shrewsbury, which has won four state championships - most recently the MIAA D1A Super 8 State Championship in 2017. The Pioneers were the only private school to win the Super 8 baseball championship, which was held from 2014 - 2019.

The Pioneers became members of the Catholic Conference in 2022 and finished second during an 18-5 campaign a year ago.

“As a member of the perennially competitive Catholic Conference, we schedule games against top teams from around the state,” Cummins noted. “We embrace this tradition as our goal is to continue to connect the past, present and future of Pioneers baseball by hosting alumni events and youth camps.”

As for the 2024 season, Cummins is excited about what lies ahead.

“The Catholic Conference is always one of the most competitive conferences each year from top to bottom,” Cummins concluded. “It certainly challenges us each day and prepares us for the postseason and that type of baseball. We hope to build off what last year’s team did and continue the tradition of success of our program.”

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