The Atlantic City boys basketball team recently won the school's second state championship and is rich in tradition, something second-year Vikings baseball coach Brent Bean hopes to quickly achieve with his team.

One of the hardest things for Atlantic City baseball’s program is believing, something coach Bean thinks is changing.

"I believe our players just needed to be placed in a direction that had their focus on baseball and bringing Atlantic City to a successful program," Bean explained.  "Our players and coaches believe that we are doing that in every practice, scrimmage and drill we do. The difference from then and now is the players believe and know they can be successful."

After finishing the 2011 season at 7-16, the Vikings return eight varsity players and have added a few transfers who will start right away. The hope is that a veteran lineup could lead Atlantic City to its first playoff appearance in 12 years.

“We have two expectations this season,” Bean acknowledged. “We want to win the American Conference and qualify for the state tournament for the first time in 12 years. If we can do both, it's an awesome season. Once we get to the postseason, we will let the chips fall wherever they please. Our team believes we can reach each expectation and we look forward to the challenges that we will face.”

To win the tough American Conference, Atlantic City will count on senior pitchers Brent Kennedy, Terrance Stewart and Joey Joyce. Kennedy, a right-hander, has already committed to Fordham University

Catcher Mike Monacello is one of the best in the Cape-Atlantic League and outfielder Basil DiCerbo provides offense. Throw in sophomore transfers Matt DiCerbo and shortstop Murry Kanter and the Vikings have the makings of a solid offensive and defensive group.

“Our team will be aggressive at the plate, field and on the bases,” Bean said.  “We coach our players to be aggressive in every aspect of the game. We want to put as much pressure on the other team's defense as we can. If we put pressure on the other team's defense, we are hoping to have them make mistakes. Once they make mistakes, we are looking to capitalize.”

If the Vikings can cut down on their mistakes and remove the mental errors that often come with having younger players, they could reach their goal of making the Group IV playoffs.

“If there is one thing I can pinpoint, it would be the mental mistakes,” Bean said. “We emphasize in practice to minimize the mental mistakes and we put our players in situations where the mental mistakes could happen. If we can keep them down during games, we can be successful.”

Program issues in that have been a problem for Atlantic City in the past are roster depth and numbers. It has been tough to convince kids to come out and play baseball at a school dominated by football and basketball history.

However, with over 60 kids currently in the program, the depth is finally there to compete. The Vikings will even field a freshman team for the first time in recent memory.

“Atlantic City baseball has been on the downswing of the waves for a number of years,” Bean admitted.  “Our Coaches, players and parents believe that we are on the upswing. We look forward to the challenges that lie ahead and are extremely excited for the 2012 season to get under way.”

The Vikings open the season April 2, in Ventnor against rival Holy Spirit at 4 p.m.