NEWPORT, R.I. - Salve Regina University head baseball coach Eric Cirella names three seniors and a junior as captains for his 2018 squad. The two-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) champions will have on-field leadership from pitcher Jonathan Lynch (Cumberland, R.I.), infielder John Militano (Miller Place, N.Y.), outfielder Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.), and catcher Christian Vargas (Melbourne, Fla.).
"Selecting captains this year was a lot easier than years past, as three (Militano, Lynch, Smith) were repeat captains from last year and the fourth (Vargas) was basically a captain last year in all ways except actually being named one. All four guys have a lot on their plate as we enter the season nationally ranked with the most difficult schedule we have ever put together as a program."
Cirella on Militano - John does a great job making sure all the position players know what is going on day to day. He leads vocally and by example and did a tremendous job leading us last year - kind of filling Ryan Kelly's void from 2016. He's the fastest player in the conference (and in my opinion the best leadoff guy as well) and is a guy who can change a game in so many ways whether it be at the plate, on the bases or with his glove. I am really looking forward to watching him play this season.
Cirella on Lynch - Lynchy is just aces. He is on top of everything the coaching staff needs and makes sure that the pitchers are informed and going about their business the right way. On and off the field, he is one of the highest character kids I have ever been around in college baseball ... and he's led our team in appearances the last two seasons on the mound. I expect that trend to continue this year as he will be a guy we lean on a lot out of the pen.
Cirella on Vargas - the one newcomer to the captain role is Christian, who has started about 98 percent of games behind the plate for us the last three seasons. He was able to put it all together last season and emerged as an All-New England selection. I truly believe he is one of the best defensive catchers in the country. We have been lucky to have him throw on the gear and work with the pitching staff the last three years. His leadership is felt in the lineup as well as with the pitchers and coaching staff and is a necessity with the demanding position he plays.
Cirella on Smith - Zach will be our only junior captain this year and it's been really fun to see him grow the past two seasons. He was named a sophomore captain as a guy who really does a great job preparing in the weight room and in practice to get ready to perform on game day. I hope he plays with more fire and passion this year as I feel like he held back at times last year. Tools-wise he is as good as you will see in the region, he can really do it all and is similar to Militano except he will also hit some balls over the fence.
"Overall we have a lot of good leaders and especially some seniors and juniors who have been thrown in the fire and performed previously. We are going to need leadership from a lot of guys, as it will take more than four to drive the bus and get us back to an NCAA Regional - especially with our tough schedule and our conference opponents continuing to improve year to year."
Salve Regina opens its 2018 campaign at home against Fitchburg State University (March 3) and then travels to Northboro, Mass., to face Framingham State University (March 4). The Seahawks will fly to Florida for a nine-game slate in the RussMatt Invitational (March 10-16).