Area Sideling Hill/ICC baseball preview
Coach: Jamie Funk, first season.
Last year: 1-19 (0-16 Sideling Hill League/0-14 Inter-County Conference).
Returning starters: Hunter Kahn (sr., P/1B, P.O. Honorable Mention), Chris Rosenberry (sr., CF), Kyler Harris (jr., 1B/3B), Taylor Miller (jr., P/RF), Cole Funk (jr., P/SS, P.O. Honorable Mention), Dalton Freise (jr., SS/P/OF), Austin Raymer (jr., C/LF), Brandon Winegardner (jr., 2B/OF).
Other top players: Kyler Goshorn (fr.), Frankie Ryder (fr).
Outlook: “We’ve been struggling last couple of years, but pitching is going to be stronger this year and defense will be stronger,” Funk said. “Hitting will have to come around a little bit. We have a better baseball attitude and more of an outlook toward the game of baseball.”
Notes: The Tigers boast two pitchers, Kahn and Cole Funk, who each have a four-pitch repertoire. “It came from a lot of offseason work,” Jamie Funk said. “They use their four pitches effectively, and I make sure to spend a lot of time working with them.”
Next game: Tuesday, at home vs. Forbes Road, 4:30.
Coach: Brian Ramsey, second season.
Last year: 17-5 (12-4 Sideling Hill League/12-2 Inter-County Conference). Lost in the District 5 Class-A semifinals.
Returning starters: Chase Novak (jr., P/SS, P.O. Honorable Mention), Quintin Miller (sr., LF), Logan Little (sr., OF), Justin Welsh (sr., INF), Landon Richards (sr., INF.
Other top players: Garrison Crouse (sr., P), Mathew Huston (jr. P), Ryan Koontz (sr., P).
Outlook: Ramsey said, “Last year we lost in the district semifinal in 12 innings, so I’m expecting to go a little farther this year.”
Notes: McConnellsburg returns a fair amount of talent to the 2016 season, but lost nearly two-thirds of last season’s innings pitched with the loss of Taylor Souders and J.T. Barnard ... “Pitching is going to have to step up, but these guys are capable of doing that,” Ramsey said.
Season opener: Tuesday, at home vs. Everett, 4:30.
Forbes Road Cardinals
Coach: Randy Gelvin, 30th season, 231-278-1 (.448).
Last year: 5-13 (3-12 Sideling Hill League/2-12 Inter-County Conference).
Returning starters: Matt Brown (jr., SS 3B/P, P.O. Honorable Mention), Aaron Schepis (jr., CF/C, P.O. Honorable Mention), Trey Kennedy (sr., 2B), Weylin Mitchell (sr., SS/3B/P), Jackson Chilcote (jr., OF), Lane Kendall (sr., C), Brycen Hohman (jr., SS/P).
Other top players: Landon Mixell (sr., DH/2B), Talon Blair (so., OF), Dalton Zeger (so., 1B), Denver Oakman (so., OF), Bow Ramsey (so., OF/P), Grayson Hall (fr., IF), Logan Grubb (jr., 1B) Keifer Suders (jr., OF).
Outlook: “I hope we are much improved from last year,” Gelvin said. “We have a lot of infielders with a lot of experience and they’re really pushing each other for positions - competition is a good thing when it comes to coaching.”
Notes: Grayson Hall is the Cardinals' young gun, coming in as a freshman with some big expectations ... “He’s the real deal infielder and pitcher,” Gelvin said. “I’ve watched him a lot, he’s real tall for his age and he’s definitely good enough to move up from JV.”
Next game: Tuesday, at Fannett-Metal, 4:30.
Southern Fulton Indians
Coach: Dustin Fischer, fifth season, 74-18 (.804).
Last year: 24-3 (15-1 Sideling Hill League, 13-1 Inter-County Conference). Lost in the PIAA Class A semifinals.
Returning starters: Trent Rider (sr., P, 9-1, 1.27 ERA, P.O. Player of the Year), Dylan Gordon (jr., SS/3B, P.O. Second Team), Zach Clark (sr., P/OF, P.O. Honorable Mention), Tanner Elbin (sr., C), Branden Lynch (so., P/INF), Cooper Grove (so., P/IF), Carl Potter (jr., P/OF).
Other top players: Mitch Potter (so., RF/P), Kyle Smith (jr., 1B/3B/P).
Outlook: “Our team had to evolve and reinvent ourselves from last year’s team to accommodate our strengths and weaknesses,” Fischer said. “We learned a lot from last year. You can’t replace Connor Litton on a team, or Tristen Douglas, you can’t replace a .500 hitter, but this year’s team is very well-disciplined. The last two years all we’ve had to do is put on our spikes and go play baseball. We want to be that disciplined team that executes in our games.”
Notes: The Indians will be without two P.O. First-Teamers in Litton and Douglas, which will pose a challenge to their batting order … On the other hand, Southern Fulton returns 80 percent of its innings-pitched last year, and has P.O. Player of the Year Trent Rider at the helm.
Next game: Tuesday, at home vs. Tussey Mountain, 4:30.
Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers
Coach: Keith Propst, seventh season.
Returning starters: Spencer Propst (jr., P/1B), Noah Barnhart (jr., C/OF), David Bolich (jr., C/2B), Jackson Park (jr., CF), Austin Garcia (jr., P/SS), Aaron Johnson (jr., 3B, 1B).
Other top players: Darius Barber (sr., LF), Isiah Merriman (jr., OF), Cullen Spealman (jr., OF), Caden Rosenberry (fr., OF). Devon Landis (so., IF), Josiah Zeibarth (fr., OF), Caleb Fisler (fr., P/ID, John Trayer (fr., OF/C), Jacob Decker (8th grade, 1B/3B).
Outlook: “We are a young team, with some small boys, but they all seem to be doing well,” Propst said. “We have a lot of our pitchers back, but we’ve been struggling with catching the last couple of years. We are shooting for .500 this season.”
Notes: The Blazers have one senior on their small roster, with nine juniors packing the middle, but with one injury already this season, and a roster of just 15, CV Christian might run into trouble later with little depth.
Season opener: Thursday, at Mercersburg Academy JV, 4:30.
Mercersburg Academy Blue Storm
Coach: John Lowery, first season.
Last year: 19-6 (7-3 Mid-Atlantic Prep League, 2-0 Independent Parochial School League). Lost in the PAISAA final.
Returning starters: Chris Adusie-Poku (sr., C), Beau Lowery (so., P/1B, P.O. First Team), Brandon Thomas (jr., OF), Shugo Tahara (sr., 2B), St. John (sr., IN/OF).
Other top players: Jake Artz (sr., OF), Will Oakley (sr., SS/P), Carlos Mancilla (sr., IF), Jayvien Sandridge (so., 1B/P/OF), Eli Riley (so., IF/OF), Miles Hearon (sr., P/IF).
Outlook: “Our expectation is to compete for the MAPL title like we have in the last five years,” Lowery said. “If we can get it rolling and stay healthy we have a chance to compete for state title. A lot of that will depend on how these guys will develop. We have a very mature team and they are open minded."
Notes: Mercersburg returns two all-MAPL first-teamers in Adusie-Poku and Beau Lowery … The Blue Storm also returns good pitching depth and brought in a number of transfers, many of which have already committed to Division I programs … Coach Lowery takes over following the retirement of Karl Reisner, who had a successful 25-year tenure at Mercersburg, completing his career with a .705 winning percentage.
Next game: Saturday, April 2, at Kiski School, (2), 1.