Norwood American Legion: On the Cusp of Playoffs…Again!

Christopher Tremblay
Issue Date: 
August, 2018
Article Body: 

With just a handful of games remaining in the Norwood American Legion’s season at the time of this writing, Post 70 found themselves sitting in second place in the West Division of Zone 6. Walpole sits comfortably in first while Franklin, Needham, Westwood and Foxboro are all nipping at Norwood’s heals in third and fourth place. Although still a battle for playoff spots, Norwood finds themselves in good shape coming down the final stretch.
“We’re right where we want to be, Norwood Coach Paul Samargedlis said. “The top four teams from each Division (East and West) advance into the playoffs. We should finish around 12-6 or 11-7 and that will get us in. We just need to stay healthy.”
Last summer, Post 70 got into the District Playoffs, their 13th in 14 seasons, but eventually fell in the third round to Quincy.
“One Hundred and fifty-seven teams enter the season all with the same goal – wining the state title, but only one team will do that,” the Coach said. “In order to do that you need depth, defense, pitching and breaks.”
Throughout this summer, Norwood’s pitching has been one of their biggest strengths with the Post 70 hurlers posting an incredible 1.96 ERA. Throwing the baseball on a regular basis for Samargedlis have been Danny Quinn, Michael James, Matt Rice and Cam Flahive. Jay Wladkowski has come out of the pen to be the teams closer. He’s two for two in save situations, and according to the Coach, throws gas. Fifteen year old Sean French will also see some time on the mound.
At the plate, Norwood has gotten its power from three dependable sources on a regular basis: Michael Dooley (.407), James (.379) and Wladkowski (.375). Second baseman Chris Petracca has also been very solid with the bat. Dooley primarily bats in the clean-up spot while Wladkowski in the three hole, but the coach likes to continuously shake up his order.
“I have 18 guys and my philosophy is to have everyone ready at all times,” Samargedlis said. “I’m always moving them around in the order. They could be batting fourth one game and then the next I’ll drop them down in the order to see more fastballs.”
Although the team has had its share of lopsided wins, they have also had their share of tight games. Pitching seems to come through on the days the team has been struggling at the plate keeping the team in the contest, but there have been other days where the defense hits a snag.
In Norwood’s six loses to date, the defense has played a part in four of them. Franklin took out Norwood 5-0 with no issues, but loses to Walpole (two 5-0 games), Westfield 2-1 and Needham 4-2 have all had mishaps in the field.
“We gave up four unearned runs in each of the two Walpole games, against Westwood we only gave up two hits, but we also gave up two unearned runs and three of the four Needham runs were unearned,” Samargedlis said. “Unfortunately, our defense has had some lapses during the season. One bad inning here and there and it has hurt us.”
Behind the plate, Norwood has gotten incredible stats from Charlie Gover, who has thrown out 70 % of runners trying to steal and has only allowed a few passed balls while managing the pitching staff quite nicely.
As Post 70 motors toward the playoffs for the 14th time in Samargedlis’ career, the coach not only wants to be successful, but he wants the kids to enjoy themselves.
“I’ve never had an issue with any of the kids or parents,” the coach said. “I believe kids need to enjoy themselves being kids while they are still kids; maximizing what they can play in the community before it’s too late.”
Samargedlis is looking forward to not only having a successful post-season, but one that the players will have fun and remember for years to come.
Following Sunday July 15’s loss to Franklin 1-0, Norwood found themselves clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division of Zone 6. Post 70 has one game remaining in the regular season holding onto a two-point lead over Medfield, Westwood and Needham in the standings. A victory over Needham in their final game will get them into the post-season.