The closing of the school year means another season of Malden baseball in the books. This time last year, the team had only four wins. Now they’ve taken over the GBL and finished in second place at 11-8-1 and qualified for the state tournament for the first time in over a decade.
Results have come from a productive and fruitful offseason that didn’t see the team lose too many players from last season, and much of the varsity team is returning for another season with current seniors Brandon McMahon, Timothy Melton, and Kyle Wilson being the only three graduating.
Captain Ezechiel Noelsaint echoed this sentiment on how not much has changed roster-wise for the Golden Tornados saying, “it’s not really that we have a different core, we got a lot of the same guys. We kind of just got better, like we got more experience and everyone got better as a team.” This improvement was definitely seen in their first game of the season after they had beaten down on the Salem Academy Navigators 14-3 in five innings, previously a team that had given Malden some trouble, and the game was forced to go to extra innings.
There were plenty of games that Malden had come out and dominated their opponents with scores of 17-0, 15-0, and another 15-0 game against Chelsea, 14-4 and 5-0 against Everett, and 2-0 against Minuteman Regional, a game where McMahon broke the record for the fewest amount of pitches thrown in a complete game with 65 in seven innings. However, when it came down to the wire in close games, Malden pulled through in the clutch and pulled out games against Somerville (4-3), and Watertown (1-0).
Junior Jake Simpson attributes these outcomes to the team being “a stronger group together,” and notes that “last year the leadership was a bit shaky, but now our captains are doing a better job holding their weight.” Simpson also included how many of these outcomes helped the team inspire confidence in themselves. “Winning five straight, even if they weren’t against great competition, was good for us. That told us we could compete and win this year.” Noelsaint agreed with Simpson and simply put, “last year we had only 4 wins, so 5 at that point was already better.”
Going back on the offseason program that Head Coach Steve Freker organized, both Simpson and Noelsaint noticed how their growth in practice was a big part of being able to compete this year. “My skills as a player are always growing. I put my best work in every day, hitting on the tee at home and staying focused. I know that I get better every day and that’s why I succeed,” said Noelsaint. Simpson had talked on the whole about showing “lots of improvement, not just me. We all worked over the fall, winter, and summer to get better and it shows in our record being better.”
Their 11-8-1 record this year felt more of a representation of Malden’s baseball program as one that is here to compete and Simpson expressed that “we just played how we should. Last year we had a lot of problems and mistakes when we’d collapse on the field, but not this year,” so the team feels that “we didn’t really break expectations that much because we all knew that we’d be a solid team going in. It was just a matter of correctly executing.”
Noelsaint contradicted Simpson a bit, commenting that “we definitely did exceed them from last year,” but agreed on how they were able to just execute better. “I expect to win every game I play. My expectations and our team’s expectations are to work hard and do our best to win, so I’d say we just met our expectations this year simply because we were able to get out on the field and play ball.”
Simpson is confident that this season won’t just be an exception but will set the tone for years to come. ”We have to play like we did this year firing on all cylinders. If we made it this year, we can make it next year.” There is a hole with McMahon leaving, but Simpson knows “we can find other guys to fill in because of how deep the team is.” Noelsaint declined to comment on next season as he’s “not worried about next year right now, to be honest. I’m just doing what I got to do to win this tournament,” which shows how focused and ready Malden is to make some noise.