In each of his first three seasons at the helm, Lely baseball coach Greg Dombrowski has taken the Trojans to the Class 6A-District 12 championship game.
Each time, Lely has lost to Barron Collier, with two of those losses by one run.
The Trojans will again take aim at the district title in 2019, but Dombrowski knows it won’t be easy. For one, a loaded Barron Collier squad returns most of the team that made a run to the state semifinals. Secondly, Lely lacks depth, meaning one or two key injuries could derail the Trojans’ progress.
“Like it is every year, I tell the guys they’re competing against themselves and not to worry as much about what the other teams are doing,” he said. “You play each game the best you can. Take them one game at a time regardless of your opponent. We’ve got a lot of guys back but also some key positions to fill as well.”
It helps to have one of the best players in the area in third baseman/outfielder Cameron Jones. The senior batted a team-best .469 last year, also leading the Trojans in runs (31) and hits (38). However, Lely lost four of its top seven hitters from a year ago. That group includes Gabe Lopez (.456), Dionel Mena (.415) and Juan De La Hoz (.301).
Lely does return Juan Garcia, who led the team with 21 RBIs, three triples and tied two players with six doubles while hitting .366. Also back is slick-fielding shortstop Angel Palacios, infielder Chris Viamonte and outfielder Eric Carney, giving the Trojans a solid core of veteran players to build around. Ace pitcher Robert Rossetti also is back, and he’ll play a bit of outfield this season when he’s not on the mound.
“Those six guys have formed the core of our program for three or four years now,” Dombrowski said. “They’ve stabilized things and now we’re looking for those next couple of guys to bring us forward the next few years.”
Included in that next group are sophomore outfielders Jeremiah Dervil and Carson Chambers. Dervil is expected to start in center, while Chambers will man one of the corner spots. Freshman infielder Antonio Palacios is also expected to start, possibly at third.
“I think by the time the playoffs roll around, we should have a good team, as long as we avoid major injuries,” Dombrowski said. “We just don’t have the depth that other teams have.”