Lorenzo Morello raced from center field to join the huddle in front of the Washington Township dugout.
He arrived with a few choice words for his teammates.
“Guys, where’s the noise?” Morello asked aloud as the Minutemen gathered between innings of a home scrimmage earlier this week with West Deptford.
Morello is a three-year starter for the Minutemen. He’s a top centerfielder and pitcher. He’s a middle-of-the-lineup hitter.
But his most important job this season might be to serve as a leader for a team teeming with both talent and youth.
“That’s what we need from him, from all the seniors,” Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said. “We don’t have many of them (seniors) that play a whole lot. ‘Zo has been around, he’s a three-year starter, he’s been through a lot.
“We’re still a young team. We need that leadership.”
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Morello embraces the task.
He believes it’s the Washington Township baseball way. He grew up in town, dreaming of playing for the Minutemen. He watched his brother Antonio, now a senior at Stockton University, handle the same role at the end of his high school career.
“It’s just being around, seeing how guys did it when I was a younger player,” Morello said. “When you have experience, you want to share things with the younger guys. That’s what they did with me when I was a younger player and now it’s on me and the other seniors.”
Morello batted .306 last season, as Washington Township went 17-9. He scored 18 runs and stole eight bases.
He’s planning to make an even bigger impact as a senior. On cue, he drilled the first pitch of his first at-bat in the scrimmage against West Deptford up the middle for an RBI single to give the Minutemen a 1-0 lead.
“I’m always aggressive at the plate,” Morello said. “I don’t like to wait, fall behind in the count. Sometimes, (leadoff hitter Christian Kane) will walk on four pitches and I’ll swing at the first pitch.”
Morello’s versatility is a big asset for the Minutemen. He can contribute as both a position player and a pitcher.
Morello has good command on the mound and a fastball that, he says, has touched 87 mph on radar guns. He prefers to start but has the moxie and the stuff to develop into the team’s closer, according to his coach.
“I could see him in that role,” Alvaro Jr. said.
Morello said he’ll take the baseball in any situation.
“I like starting, just going out there and throwing strikes,” said Morello, who is likely to attend Stockton University and play baseball for the Ospreys. “But I’ll close if they want me to close. I’ll do whatever they want me to do for the team.”
Morello, righthanded pitcher Eric Cartafalsa, catcher Anthony Buffone and leftfielder/pitcher Trevor Sharkey are the seniors most likely to see regular action for the Minutemen.
The team looms as a legitimate contender in both the Olympic Conference American Division and South Jersey Group 4 in large part because of the presence of younger players such as junior first baseman Luke Kaschak, who hit six homers last season; and three promising sophomores in pitcher Nick Hammer, shortstop Greg Rossi, and outfielder Kane.
“We’ve got a lot of potential,” Morello said. “We’ve got a lot of talented young kids. They work hard. We just need to make sure we have good leadership with this team.”