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2024 Spring Team Preview: Avon Old Farms (CT)

Bruce Hefflinger
New England Senior Writer

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2024 Spring Team Preview: Avon Old Farms (CT)

AVON, Ct. - Loaded might be an understatement when it comes to the Avon Old Farms baseball team in 2024.

There are 11 college commits on the roster, six headed to Division I, including two Vanderbilt signees. In addition, there are at least eight others that head coach Robert Dowling sees having a bright future playing at the next level.

“Our strength is that we have top talent on the mound and good depth all around,” noted Dowling, who led Avon Old Farms to a 16-4 record a year ago when the Winged Beavers avenged a loss in the 2022 Founders League title game with a 2-1 victory over Loomis Chaffee for the 2023 championship. “We are going to need to play well though, as our league is really strong, so what is on my mind is preparing the team to compete at a high level and be focused on consistency.”

That has been a theme in the program in Dowling’s nearly three decades at the helm.

“I have been at Avon for 29 years and we have been a strong program the entire time, winning the league 17 times in those years,” related Dowling. “We have a good staff of four guys who have been together for a long time now - we know our roles, the players, and the school culture very well.”

It is just part of what makes the Avon Old Farms program special.

“We have an ideal school setting, with special facilities for our 400 students,” explained Dowling. “The baseball facilities are excellent and support the development of our players in-season and out of season. We have a strength coach who works in our training center to emphasize not only strength, but also mobility and flexibility in our athletes and we have a mental performance team, as well as both indoor and outdoor facilities ideal for dedicated players.

“We have won many games and league titles over the years, but we prioritize the development and college aspirations of our athletes.”

With all of that in mind, the 2024 edition of the Winged Beavers could be special.

On the mound there are left-hander’s Aidan O’Connell and Alex Grant, both Vanderbilt commits. In addition, right-hander Cole Raymond is headed to Georgia Tech and Ty Longoria is a St. John’s recruit. There is also junior RHP Owen Callaghan, voted the Underclass Pitcher of the Year in the Founders League after a 5-0 season as a sophomore.

O’Connell is the 49th-rated senior southpaw in the nation while Grant is the fourth-ranked 2024 lefty in New England. Raymond is the third-rated junior RHP in Connecticut and Longoria the seventh-ranked senior righty in Connecticut.

“Cole Raymond is new to us and is really dedicated to pitching,” Dowling pointed out. “He has a power arm, consistently in the 90s in Florida and topping at 95, with an effective slider.”  

But there is even more when it comes to arms in the program. Connor Jernigan, the 21st-ranked junior RHP in New England, “touched 89 several times in Florida” according to Dowling and the 6-5 220-pounder “will be a college player.”

Senior Deron Koppel brings experience to the staff while sophomores Matt DeFillippo and Roger Hill are “promising young pitchers” in the eyes of Dowling.

The infield is also expected to be outstanding with the return of Van Liott, the 29th-rated senior shortstop in New England. A Holy Cross signee, Liott was the Underclass Player of the League after leading the Founders League in hitting in 2023.

Max Diamond, the 11th-ranked 2024 shortstop in Connecticut, is another returnee with the Colby commit joined in the infield by Connor Naspo, a Save Regina recruit. More strong infield play comes from junior Liam Murphy, with Trinity commit Timmy Domizio bringing more depth.

As well as being the top-rated senior left-handed pitcher in New England, O’Connell, the New Hampshire Player of the Year last season, can play first base.

George Proffit, the 31st-rated junior catcher in New England, is a “talented defender who will be a college player” according to Dowling and brings solid play behind the plate for Old Farms.

The outfield also features standouts that have a future at the next level with Boston College commit Ben Williams, Amherst signee Leo Foust, Bowdown commit Robbie Perlman and uncommitted junior Kacin Robinson comprising an impressive group of candidates.

“Kacin Robinson is about to blossom into a special college prospect,” Dowling said of the third-rated junior outfielder in New England. “He is new to the school, and is doing a great job in all areas.”

It makes for a promising outlook to say the least.

“The team has good character and is hungry to compete,” Dowling noted. “They're fun to be around and excited about our season.”

Still, there are players that must be replaced.

“We graduated some really good players, led by Dave McCann who is at Virginia Tech,” Dowling said. “Aidan Stern was a special player for us last year, and is now at Trinity, and Teddy Cashman was an offensive leader and is now at Lafayette. We also graduated some really good arms, highlighted by Grady Golier (Lehigh) and Collin Kratzer (Charleston Southern).”

Consistency will be the key to success according to Dowling, who understands even with all the talent nothing is a given when it comes to playing in the Founders League.

“Our league is very talented and deep,” Dowling concluded. “While we are excited to compete at a high level, we know that we are going to need to play very well to earn the top spot.”

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