IRVINGTON – Jamall Angoy truly loves the game of baseball.
That passion is exhibited in his role as the head coach of the Irvington High School varsity baseball team.
Indeed, Angoy wants his players to feed off his excitement.
“I’m always optimistic,” Angoy said. “I’m enthused about the game. I’m enthused about baseball in itself. Every year, I come out with the same kind of zeal because I want that to transcend to the kids.”
With a senior-dominated group, Angoy could have plenty of reasons to smile a lot this season.
The Blue Knights, looking to build on last year’s 8-7 campaign, will open the season April 1 against East Orange Campus on the road in a Super Essex Conference-Independence Division game.
“This year, we probably have our most experienced group in these four years,” Angoy said. “They have been playing together for about three or four years. I’m waiting to see how it translates on the field.”
Leading the senior group is Marcos DeJesus.
“Marcos DeJesus was a first team all-conference player,” said Angoy, a 1999 IHS graduate. “He plays first base and also pitches. He has hit either cleanup or the third hitter every season he has played.”
Interestingly, among the other seniors are two sets of twins: David and Lawrence Proctor; and Teonne and Dionne Cobbs.
David Proctor offers versatility as a pitcher, shortstop and third baseman. “He can play multiple roles,” Angoy said. “We are expecting a good season from him as well.”
Angoy also expects Lawrence Proctor, a center fielder, to have a breakout season.
“He’s a pretty good player and we’re banking on him having a better season than he did last year, which was a pretty decent season,” Angoy said. “He should definitely have a chance as a first-team season this year.”
The Cobbs twins also are intriguing. Teonne plays left field and Dionne plays right field.
“They both have very similar skill sets,” Angoy said. “They will make a play, and at the same time, will get closer to hit in that .400 range hopefully this year. I am expecting them to have a big year as well.”
Senior shortstop Monfort Celestin played varsity for the first time last year. Angoy also expects Celestin to have a breakout season.
In addition to working hard in the batting cages at IHS, the Blue Knights have been practicing behind Irvington High School. Angoy acknowledges that the field has given his team “untrue hops,” but his players are making plays nonetheless.
“We have to make the plays, so we are fielding as much as possible,” Angoy said.
Once again, the Blue Knights’ home games will be held at Chancellor Avenue field.
Angoy always is optimistic, but even more so with this year’s team.
“Overall, we have a senior-dominated team and an experienced team, and I hope it translates onto the field the way I believe it should,” he said.
This season, Angoy has put a stronger emphasis on developing the pitching.
“I believe these kids are going to have a chance to do well on the field,” he said. “But the thing is, baseball can go any way. It’s really based on pitching. And that’s where we are working on developing this year. If the pitching translates the way we believe it could or the way we want it to, then we should have a good season.”
IH baseball schedule
April 1, at East Orange Campus
April 2, Technology
April 4, at Arts
April 6, Newark Tech
April 7, Golda Och Academy
April 11, at University
April 13, West Side
April 15, East Orange Campus
April 19, at New Brunswick
April 20, at Technology
April 25, Arts
April 27, at Newark Tech
May 2, University
May 3, at Golda Och Academy
May 17, at Snyder