Golden Warrior Sean Napolitano emerged as a top hitter in MVC

Jun. 6—Sean Napolitano didn't mind getting a few splinters in the Andover High dugout last year. A sophomore at the time, he rode the Golden Warrior bench all season — getting just five at-bats, while he watched Braeden Archambault, who head coach Dan Grams called "the best outfielder in the state," do his thing.

While he watched from the bench, Napolitano knew that he needed to work on several things in the offseason if he wanted to become the Golden Warriors' starting right fielder for the 2024 season. After all, he says, competition is never safe in Andover, with anybody and everybody trying to grab playing time.

Napolitano hit the gym, added 15 to 20 pounds of muscle and that helped him out this past fall as a starting defensive end on the football field. Once the gridiron season ended, he continued to get bigger and stronger while taking part in many captains practices, where he got a chance to face some live pitching from his flame throwing teammates.

All of that — along with a slight change in his batting stance — helped him earn the starting right fielder job this season. This spring, he was among the Merrimack Valley Conference's top hitters, finishing the season with a .366 average and 14 RBIs.

"Last year I was tall in my stance because I'm around 6-foot-3, and I was very high up, so I wasn't able to catch up to the speed and adjust to the off-speed pitches," said the left-handed hitter and thrower. "I noticed (earlier this season) when I get lower into my stance, I'm able to be more of an athlete in the batter's box and make adjustments with my muscle memory. Last year when I was tall I couldn't catch up to a fastball right down the middle and this year I can react to it and be a real hitter."

He's certainly been a "real hitter." Recently against Methuen he finished 4 for 4.

"Sean is one of the backbones of our team this year," said Grams. "He gets it. After seeing limited playing time behind Braeden, Sean has emerged as a go-to guy in our offense. He has really bought into our hitting philosophy and it has shown with his approach to the game. He is well liked by his teammates and feeds off there success."

Napolitano comes from a family of athletes. His father Larry was a track star at Holy Cross, his mother Kerry was a three-year starter for the Haverhill High girls basketball team during the program's state championship run in the 1990s and went on to swim at Holy Cross. His sister Ainsley is a soccer goalie at Le Moyne College, after playing at Andover High.

Sean said his competitive side certainly comes from his parents.

"Both of my parents played sports in college so they both warned me that once you get into high school, it's the real deal," he said. "When you're at the varsity level if you have one bad game, you may be out as you never know unfortunately. Some coaches have short leashes so if you get an opportunity you have to try to make the most of it.

"Change nothing and keep (my hitting approach) simple. I want to continue to try to hit the ball hard and also try to hit the ball the other way — just stay through the ball and not pull off, not try to hit home runs. I just need to continue to take the ball where it's pitched and use my inside-out swing."