WAPPINGERS FALLS — On Sunday, when the Hudson Valley Renegades hold their home opener against the Lowell Spinners, they will likely be showered with sounds of chants and applause. On Wednesday afternoon, the only noise coming from the stands was from hammering and drilling. As construction on Dutchess Stadium wraps up in preparation for a new Renegades' season — one that begins Friday at Aberdeen at 7:05 p.m.— a reshuffled roster with an experienced coaching staff tries to build off the run to the New York-Penn league championship game last season.

“Just getting to that finals is a really cool experience for our coaching staff and our players,” said manager Blake Butera. “They want to continue that success from last year into this year.”

Butera, a 26-year-old who played for both Hudson Valley and the Princeton Rays just three seasons ago, said it helps having a staff that returns all its coaches from the previous season. On the flip side, only four players return from last season’s Renegades team.

“It’s fun to win and see these players advance,” Butera said.

As for the stadium, which is being repainted and decked out with new seats, Butera said, “It’s going to help both the players and the fan experience.”

“Last year we had good crowds,” Butera added, “and I expect this year to be even better.”

Lifelong fan

The resident expert on the stadium’s improvements over the years is Joe LaSorsa, a Katonah native who was drafted by the Rays out of St. John’s University in the 18th round of the 2019 draft. He’s been going to Renegades' games with his family since he was a child and said the stadium looks “10 times better” now.

Before the draft began, LaSorsa, a left-handed pitcher, had no clue he’d wind up in the Hudson Valley. In fact, he didn’t even conceive it as a possibility.

“Seeing that I was getting drafted by the Rays, it was the team that I least expected the most,” LaSorsa said, “but it ended up being one of the best because I’m going to the place closest to home.”

One of six children, LaSorsa said he expects his family to make the trip to every home game, considering it’s only a 40-minute drive to see the only New York native on the roster play.

“It’s unreal,” he said.

Family roots

If Nick Sogard’s last name sounds familiar, it’s because there’s another guy with the same last name playing in the major leagues. Eric Sogard, the second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, is Nick’s cousin.

“We talk a lot of baseball,” said Nick, a utility switch-hitter from Sacramento, Calif., who was a 12th-round pick by the Rays in this year’s draft.

Sogard, who has been playing baseball ever since he can remember, said he loves being on the east coast. He doesn’t feel the pressure as he starts his professional career to uphold to his family lineage. “I try to make it my own way,” he said.

How did it feel when Sogard found out he was being drafted? “I was relieved and ready to get going.”

First impressions

Few sounded as ready to get going during Wednesday’s media day as Nathan Wiles, who just joined the team very recently.

“First day, actually,” he said.

While some athletes still haven’t arrived, including 2019 first-round pick Garrett Jones, Wiles, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Oklahoma, came into his first practice intent on improving upon “everything.”

Wiles received a text in this year’s draft from the Rays that read, “Hey man. How do you feel about the eighth round?” The Overland, Kan., native, excitedly headed to a more mountainous terrain, and although he’s still trying to figure out what his role in the pitching rotation will be, he’s not concerned about whether he’ll be starting or relieving.

“I’m playing baseball,” Wiles said. “It’s all the same.”