2002 Softball Season Recap
At last a championship. Seven years in the Needham Community Softball League and finally the trophy goes to the WNTN Softball All*Stars. This was the team's fifth trip to the final round and they were able to shed the bridesmaid label with a convincing 3 games to 1 series victory over Micks. With a 22-6 score in game four, the team completed one of their most successful seasons with a 25-4 record.
While they limped home with six starters (David Higgins, Ted Argentieri, Mike Donley, Stu Kaplan, Greg Kassabian, Eddie Murray) injured or out, the 2002 club came prepared with the additions of several new contributors such as Josh Horwitz, Dan Mikesh, Stu Kaplan, Rob Braunstein and Max Gulman. John Toyias returned after a year off to take over the shortstop position with his shotgun arm. Players like Keith Garland and Darren Roy returned from injury to play key roles.
The team worked hard in the off-season to fill holes created by Mike Abbott (moved away), Keith Ryan (retired), Mike Hluska (changed his mind about coming out of retirement), Kevin Gorey (grad school), Pete Smith (retired) & Jeff Jackson (work commitments). That's a lot to replace. But enter Dan Mikesh, Josh Horwitz, Rob Braunstein, Stu Kaplan, Max Gulman, John Toyias & Ed Murray.
This team had better depth, youth and speed than recent versions and it all came together. Jeff Miller's (18-2 5.64) pitching was superb. Mike Donley's outfield defense (until he broke his collarbone in the semi-finals) was some of the best in team memory. Mike McLean hit close to .700 for almost two-thirds of the season. Dan Mikesh in the leadoff spot was the speedy table-setter missing the last few seasons. The Toyias-Kassabian double play combo was unrivaled. Ted Argentieri (2-30-.535) hit like the old Ted. The team hit .487 overall with nine players batting over .500 (Mike McLean, Ed Murray, Dan Mikesh, Josh Horwitz, Rob Rudnick, Ted Argentieri, Keith Garland, Dave Higgins & Rob Braunstein).
The 2002 WNTN softball team had so much depth that it really had six outfield starters (Higgins, Argentieri, Mikesh,Donley, Kaplan & Roy) and five infield starters (McLean, Kassabian, Murray, Toyias &Horwitz). Extra hitter George Langdon excelled when it counted, hitting .538 in the post season. Not many teams had the bench strength this one had with players like Rick Barsam, Rob Braunstein, Max Gulman & Rob Rudnick all making key contributions.
Everyone will have their own framed moments of the championship 2002 campaign. Whether it's the diving catches by Mike Donley & Dan Mikesh, Greg Kassabian's clutch hits, Dave Higgins' slashing liners, Keith Garland's rockets to left, George Langdon & Rick Barsam waving home another runner, John Toyias' submarine torpedo's, the two out masterful hitting of Stu Kaplan or the goaltender-like defense of pitcher Jeff Miller, there are great memories of the summer of 2002.
A unit of great balance, they had power (John Toyias & Stu Kaplan combining for 13 home runs) and hustle (Dave Higgins, Dan Mikesh & Mike McLean with 23 combined doubles). And the reward is the "Claxton Cup" to be in the possession of the WNTN softball team until next season. A true team effort. Very gratifying.