With a versatile team of players who have several years of combined experience, the Vinalhaven High School baseball squad looks ahead to a strong season.

“I think that we can compete with anybody,” said Viking coach Matt Slivinsky. “We will see what happens though. I mean time will tell.”

The Vikings include seniors Nathan Hopkins (pitcher, shortstop, third base), Dana Tolman, (pitcher, outfield, first base), Ryan Jones (second base, third base) and Corbin Osgood (outfield); juniors Tyler Chilles (outfield, first base), and Bobby Beckman (catcher, third base, shortstop, pitcher); sophomores Steven Osgood (catcher, shortstop), Brian Stanley (infield), Trey Warren (first base, outfield) and Dylan Ames (outfield); freshmen Scott James (outfield), Matt Young (outfield), Justin Newton (outfield) and Shane Carlsen (outfield, second base); and eighth-graders Byron Thomas (outfield) and Zeb Campbell (outfield).

Andrew Guptill, Corey James, Willard Webster, Jacob Stanley and Charles McDonald were lost to graduation last year.

The Vikings are co-coached by Slivinsky and Shawn Chilles, both in their third year leading the Western Class D team. Slivinsky also coaches the island boys basketball team, which is coming off an exceptionally strong campaign.

In fact, many of the island athletes also played on the talented school’s soccer and hoop teams, both of which realized postseason success.

Slivinsky said that the team looks strong, but could use a few improvements. “I’m optimistic as far as our defense and our pitching, it’s just a matter of getting our hitting going,” he said. “I’m really hoping that the boys will get the bats going and if we can get outside and get some more hitting in. I think that we can compete.”

For him, success is a matter of getting the batter’s strengths consistent “and hopefully the defense will hold true,” he said.

He said his ultimate goal is for the squad to “develop as a team together and hopefully get along and have a good productive season, a winning season where we could ultimately get into the baseball playoffs and win. I’d love to have a state championship for these seniors.”

So far, he said the players have gotten along quite well and there have not been any problems. He looks forward to what more time on the field will bring.

“I’m hoping that they can play to their fullest potential so that we can see what they can do, because I’m interested to see it myself,” he said.

The coach said he thinks Hopkins and Tolman, who he has coached in multiple sports for around five years, will lead the team.

“I’m very excited to have Dana back playing and, with him and Nathan spearheading our pitching, I believe we can compete with just about anybody and we will have to go out there and see if we can do it,” Slivinsky said.

The Vikings begin the regular season on Saturday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in a doubleheader at Buckfield.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.