When members of the West Springfield baseball team enter and exit the locker room, they come face to face with a simple math equation.
“Eighteen players plus four coaches equals one heartbeat.”
The quote speaks to the importance of team chemistry, a vital element that senior Charlie Morgan said is a driving force behind the Spartans baseball team.
"We accept our roles and work hard for the team," Morgan said. "We don't try to just get our individual stats up. We do what's best for the team."
"One reason our team was so successful last season was our chemistry. We were really close as a team and we worked hard,” Morgan said.
This season, the Spartans will try to build on that chemistry as 14 players from the 2009 Patriot District and Northern Region championship team will return to the team.
Filling the shoes of the eight players who graduated from the 2009 squad is the team's No. 1 concern before the season starts.
"We lost eight seniors total," said head coach John James. "Of those eight we lost five significant guys and the other three were great role players."
"Replacing those guys will be tough, but we feel like we've got some younger guys who can step in and do the job."
One of those players is Kyle Snyder, a senior first baseman who will be starting for the first time at his position this season. Snyder spent much of the 2009 season out of the lineup with a back injury.
"I've been waiting for this since I came to high school," he said. "Last year, I got a lot of reps in practice. I'm just excited to get the start and play."
While Snyder wouldn’t admit to any preseason jitters, he did say he was still feeling out his role as a starter.
"I'll get acclimated as the season goes along," he said.
Other key players include All-District, All-Region and All-State selections Morgan and Bobby Wahl.
While the Spartans don't consider the 2010 season to be a rebuilding campaign, the team does plan to approach the season with it's usual attitude toward winning titles — worry about them later.
"We don't really use the term expectations here," James said. "We do the best we can. We work as hard and let the results take care of themselves."
That doesn't mean James and his team haven’t made winning a district title a team goal.
"Our goal is always the same," James said. "We're always practicing hard and our goal is to win championships. That never changes."
With just over a week left until the Spartans open the season on the road at Robinson on March 23, James isn't thinking about defending the 2009 titles, but rather tightening up the little things that make a team successful.
"We've got a lot of things we still need to work on," he said