It may be hard to believe, but the 2014 high school baseball season is rapidly approaching and, while most schools have been relegated to indoor practice, perennial power Calvert Hall has been preparing for another run at the MIAA A Conference crown outdoors on the artificial turf field.

Hall coach Lou Eckerl said that the turf field definitely gives his team an advantage. “We’re fortunate to have a field with all artificial turf, and after we cleared the field of snow, we’ve been able to practice for five days.”

Eckerl hopes to use the early start to his advantage as he seeks to lead the Cardinals to a third straight league title.  Calvert Hall has won seven of the last MIAA A Conference crowns, and they have made appearances in the tournament finals the11 seasons in a row under Eckerl.  The only squads to briefly unseat the Cardinals from the title thrown were Archbishop Spalding, in 2011, and Gilman, in 2010.

“We’ve got a good group of seniors returning,” said the Cardinals skipper. “We’ll have Manny Rodriguez, Troy Stokes and Nick Delp back.”  On February 18, that trio was honored by the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches as pre-season All-State Players, and Eckerl was recognized as Coach of the Year by the MSABC.

Eckerl said he will have 11 seniors on this year’s squad.

“I’ll be counting on seniors Manny and Troy, and junior Nick Delp. They will be the core of the team, but we’ll also count on David Gately, Greg Carter and Ben Strock. We’ll field a good team again this year,” said Eckerl.

The Hall was 24-8 last season, and they are 309-85 under Eckerl since 2002.

Eckerl said it will be hard to find a slugger like two-time VSN Player of the Year Alex Murphy, who was drafted and signed by the Baltimore Orioles last summer.  “Murphy is in Sarasota at camp, and it will be tough to fill that void in the line-up.  He is doing well.”

The Hall will start the season on March 12 at home against St. John’s D.C. and they will open defense of their  A Conference crown one week later when they host John Carroll.