Trojans hope to rebound from down season
Year two of the Scott Folmar era of Chambersburg baseball may be as different as year one was, compared to before Folmar was named coach of the Trojans.
At least that's what he is hoping.
Chambersburg was 6-14 last year, finishing the season with a nine-game losing streak. Ten seniors who had come up before Folmar became coach have graduated, and the coach is excited to mold a younger group in his style.
"I think it's been more comfortable for all the players," Folmar said. "They all know what's expected of them. Last year was different for everybody."
While the Trojans had decent pitching and defense last year, the batting was a big letdown. The team averaged only 3.3 runs per game, batted .272, had only 28 extra-base hits and just could not seem to come up with clutch hits.
Folmar said, "Our philosophy is to be more aggressive - we were too timid last year, when we took too many pitches early in the count. We need a different mindset this year."
Chambersburg returns five veteran players this season, which will open Saturday with a home game at noon at Greene Township Park against Hamburg.
Hayden Kissel, who was the second-leading batter last year at .333, will move from third base to shortstop. Kevin Carbaugh will slide over to centerfield, Bryce Kendall returns behind the plate, Kaden Hoover (1-2) will be one of the top pitchers and also play rightfield, and Sean Vessah will take over in leftfield. All are seniors except for Hoover, a junior.
Also expected to start or see playing time are Max Armstrong (so.) at third base, Austin Kopp (jr.) at second base, Luke Wetzel (jr.) at first base, Karsen Rush (so.) at first base or DH, and Spencer Seaman (jr.) in the infield.
"We've got some other guys, too," Folmar said, "and it will depend on who is hitting the ball. We were in almost every game last year, but we just couldn't get that key hit that would have made a difference mentally."
Pitching, especially with the new pitch count rules initiated by PIAA, will be important, and Hoover is the only pitcher back this year.
Kopp is also expected to be a starter, and Skylar McLean (jr.), Seaman, Rush and Josiah Piccard (so.) are also expected to throw some innings.
Folmar said, "Our mentality is for the batter to be on or out in four pitches or less, and we're preaching that. That way our guys can pitch farther into games. We don't have guys who will blow the ball past people, but that will keep the defense on their toes.
"I think we should be strong defensively all around the diamond, even we have a handful of new starters. We're telling our pitchers to let them hit the ball and if we make all the routine plays we should be in every game."
Because the Trojans often trailed in games last year and had trouble getting hits, Folmar was not able to use his preferred style of baseball, which employs a lot of bunting and stealing. Of course, bunting is another thing that he hopes is better this year - he recalled one game late in the season in which the team missed eight straight bunt attempts.
"That's still our game plan," he said. "We'll try to do some stealing and some hit-and-runs, but the game will have to dictate that, and that will depend a lot on how we're hitting.
"I'm very excited to get started. I think we have the players who can do some good things and we have a lot of potential. But we have to take care of the little things."
Which will hopefully lead to big things.
NOTES: Folmar said Cumberland Valley is likely the favorite in the Mid Penn Commonwealth ... The Trojans have only four seniors, eight juniors and three sophomores ... Folmar said, "All three of those sophomores will be either starters or players who are good contributors."
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Scott Folmar, second year.
Last year: 6-14 (4-10 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division)
Returning starters: Hayden Kissel (sr., SS, 11 R, 5 RBIs); Kevin Carbaugh (sr., CF, .288, 3 RBIs); Kaden Hoover (jr., P/RF, 1-2, 4.63 ERA, 19.2 innings, 24 H, 11 BB, 7 K; .233, 4 RBIs); Bryce Kendall (sr., C, .083); Sean Vessah (sr., LF, .176, 3 RBIs).
Other top players: Austin Kopp (jr., P/2B); Luke Wetzel (jr., 1B); Skylar McLean (jr., 1B/P); Karsen Rush (so., 1B/DH/P); Spencer Seaman (jr., 2B/P); Josiah Piccard (so., SS/P); Max Armstrong (so., 3B); Devin Carbaugh (jr., OF); Spencer Hockensmith (jr., OF); Bailey Leedy (jr., OF).
Season opener: Saturday, at home vs. Hamburg, noon.