The Dover Senators Baseball program has been one of the more competitive teams within the tough Henlopen Conference over the past few seasons. While a long playoff run had alluded them, things were different this season.
Dover went 13-5 this regular season, and once again clinched a berth within the DIAA State Tournament. However, instead of an early exit, the Senators came within a game of the State Championships, falling to Caravel in the State Semifinals. Their performance on the diamond this season has earned the Dover Senators the Dover Post “Team of the Year” in baseball.
Like many successful teams, the Senators had to deal with some early adversity during their journey this season. Dover opened up the season at 5-4, while it certainly wasn’t a terrible record it put them in the middle of the pack nearly half-way through the season’s schedule. While a tournament berth was still a possibility, they had to really do some work if they wanted to gain a higher seed within the tournament.
The Senators responded to the challenge, winning 8 of their last 9 games to finish with a record of 13-5. Dover took down Hodgson in the first round before dispatching a tough A.I. duPont team on the road in the second round. Unfortunately, they ran into a hot Caravel team falling to the Bucs 10-4 in the State Semifinals.
Now, the Senators say goodbye to 6 seniors who helped lead them this season while looking ahead with the talent that will be returning next year.
The Senators were led by a strong senior leadership group of Kyle Mace, Ian Gory, Seth Penniston, Ben Petitdemange, Brett Jones and Colin Stein. While they’ll all be missed, the Senators found production from several underclassmen this season, players Dover hopes can fill the cleats left behind by the exiting players.
Sophomore Dakota Graham, juniors Tyler Cullen and Nick Spadafino all produced for the Senators this past season. Dakota starred with the bat while manning the outfield, Cullen took the mound when needed and played strong defense at the hot-corner, and Spadafino contributed at the plate while playing multiple positions on defense.
The Senators will have 11 returning players next season that were either juniors or sophomores this year, making Dover a very youthful team come next season. And with the possibility of having only 4 seniors on the squad next season, the names mentioned above could become the Senators new leadership core.
“Everyone on our team has worked hard this season,” said Spadafino. “We kept saying all season long, to keep pushing and work hard, and that’s what we’ve done.”
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Dover may go through some growing pains next season, but as they proved at the beginning of this year’s campaign they not only can deal with adversity on the field, but they can quickly turn it into an extended winning streak. And that’s a testament to the hard work put in by Manager Dave Gordon and his staff.
“They worked so hard this season,” said Gordon after the Senators loss to Caravel. “For them to come out and (do what they’ve accomplished), I couldn’t be prouder.”
Even with changes ahead, the Senators are still on the right track. With their returning standouts and newcomers looking to make a name for themselves, it’s safe to say that Dover will be back amongst the elite on the diamond next season.