Tonawanda News — Back in 2006 North Tonawanda baseball was a reputable program. John Chairmonte was at the helm and the Lumberjacks were a perennial contender in the Niagara Frontier League.
But recently the Jacks have fallen upon hard times on the diamond. Last season they finished 3-15 and now the team has welcomed its fourth coach in as many years: Eric Partnell.
Partnell played for North Tonawanda and hopes to help this year’s team bring the program back to respectability. Chairmonte (Partnell’s coach back in 2006) will serve as an assistant to the young skipper as he attempts to restore a winning culture at North Tonawanda.
“Last season was certainly disappointing for everyone at NT,” Partnell said. “So we certainly expect better than that, and that’s why we’re doing what we need to do to get back to a winning program. We kind of had the reputation of being a good baseball program and the past couple seasons haven’t been real good for us.”
The Jacks return a number of players from last year’s squad, and Partnell said they have grown from their experience last season.
Chris Mellott will bat cleanup and catch an improved rotation for the Jacks. Partnell said Mellott is the player who holds everything together for NT, and the team will rely on his leadership.
Batting leadoff is senior Josh Brosius, who has signed to play at Erie Community College next season. Brosius struggled at the plate last season hitting .240, but Partnell said he has been working tirelessly all offseason to get his swing to where it needs to be.
“The team and coaches voted him captain,” Partnell said. “He’s a real athletic kid who comes in and works hard and does what he has to do. … A couple summers back I coached him on a travel team and a friend of mine was working with him at Sports Performance Park all winter. He’s getting other guys to go with him out there, getting in the cage and working on the fundamentals; fine-tuning that swing.”