Dover baseball team expects more success this season

Noah Lanouette is congratulated by Dover head coach Dave Gordon (Delaware State News file photos)

DOVER — Last year was expected to be a rebuilding year for the Dover High baseball team, having to replace virtually its entire starting lineup.

That didn’t matter to the Senators. They went on to win the Henlopen Conference Northern Division title.

“You hear the word culture a lot in sports nowadays,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “I like to say we’ve been building that since we got here. If you come watch us lift weights, kids show up and get after it, and it’s all voluntary.

“There’s a lot of kids here that could go elsewhere and play but they wanted to stay home at Dover. I definitely feel like the previous teams and players have set that bar and these kids want to carry that on.”

Dover pitcher Dominic Velazquez, right.

Dover enters this season hoping to continue its recent run of success. The Senators have made the state tournament every year since 2010.

Players have come and gone during that time span, but the expectation has remained the same.

“It carries one year to the next,” said senior infielder Sean Quirk. “Coach Gordon and the staff does a great job developing our JV team. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior, everyone is ready to help the team win games and do whatever we need to do to be successful.”

Dover was scheduled to open its season today against Sussex Central but the game was postponed due to field conditions. The Senators’ next contest is Monday at Lake Forest (4:15 p.m.).

Dover is coming off a 13-5 record in 2017 but fell to Delaware Military Academy in the first round of the state tournament.

This year’s version of the Senators has nine juniors and five seniors on the roster along with a pair of sophomores and one freshman. They return seven full-time starters from 2017.

“We have a lot of returning players and a lot of kids who are already used to winning,” said senior Noah Lanouette. “We’re going to stick to what we did last year and work even harder to try to go further. This team has great chemistry and a great connection.”

Lanouette, Quirk, Trey Howard, Joseph Gray and Marcus Jones make up the senior class. Most of the large junior class saw playing time last season — Andrew Carney, Michael Carrington, Hiram Davis, Christopher Dabney, Cole Edwards, Daevon Stratton, Dylan Jacobs, Samuel Courtney and Matthew Bieker.

Freshman Alec Rodriguez is the lone newcomer while sophomores Dom Velazquez and Nathan Turner are both in their second season of varsity baseball. Velazquez led Dover’s pitchers in wins last season before a late season injury cut his season short, but he’s been healthy since mid-summer.

“We want to carry what we did last year over to this year and keep playing Dover baseball,” Velazquez said. “We love each other, we’re all brothers. Whenever someone needs help, we’re there for them.”

Dover’s coaching staff has also received a boost this offseason.

The Senators added two recent alums to its staff in former All-State players Kyle Mace and Bobby Brown. Both played for Gordon’s state tournament teams earlier this decade.

While Dover has won the Henlopen North and reached the state semifinals under Gordon, the Senators have one more goal left — a state championship.

“It’s been the goal ever since I got here and we’re still trying to do it,” said Gordon, who has been Dover’s head coach since 2011. “They want it. We worked hard in the offseason and they’re doing the right things in school. We’re going to be ready to roll, the conference is going to be tough again and the state will be tough. We’ll have to come ready to play every game.”

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