The difference between a good season and a Middle Atlantic Conference-Southwest section championship season for the Western Maryland College baseball team could come down to a few young arms.
Green Terrors 13-year coach Dave Seibert knew going in that there would be question marks with an inexperienced pitching staff.
The Green Terrors lost three starting pitchers from last year's 14-13 club and little else -- they have their entire starting infield back, along with two of their top three outfielders.
The Green Terrors finished third in the MAC-SW with a 7-5 record in 1992, and Seibert believes his team has as good a shot as anyone to win the conference this year.
"It's a very balanced conference, and six of the seven teams are capable of winning it. We have a good nucleus back and I feel comfortable with the way we're hitting the ball and scoring runs," said Seibert.
"Our only big question mark is our inexperienced pitching staff. We've been pleased with what we've seen, but we need to get better."
Their abbreviated spring break trip to Florida was a case in point. Scheduled to play seven games, they got four in and came home with three wins.
In their wins against Nichols, St. Mary's (Maryland) and Ramapo, they out-slugged their opponents by a combined score of 28-22. The only setback was a 2-0 loss to Hobart.
"I'm pleased to come back 3-1. We played well offensively and defensively, but did give up a lot of runs," Seibert said.
"We can't expect to outscore people throughout the season. Pitching is too big a part of baseball at any level. We just have to be more consistent and learn to throw strikes."
Of the four starters Seibert is relying on this season, only junior right-hander Chuck McLean (South Carroll) has started more than one game in a Green Terrors uniform.
Last season, he pitched in eight games -- starting seven -- and went 4-1 with a 4.68 ERA.
Senior right-hander Tim Kleckner, who went the distance against Hobart, made one start last season in three appearances. Sophomore Brett Kehler (two relief appearances in 1992) and junior newcomer Scott Stem round out the rotation.
The offense is geared around junior center fielder Gary Carter, who led the team in hitting the past two seasons. Last year he hit .333 and also led the team with a .506 slugging percentage and eight doubles.
"He can hit for power as well as average," Seibert said. "He spreads the ball all over the park and has great speed. He also covers a lot of ground in center and is definitely someone we count on."
Carter is batting second in the lineup behind Kevin Henneman.
Despite only hitting .195 last season, the senior right fielder set a single-season school record with 24 walks last season. He had an on-base percentage of .385 and scored 18 runs.
Sophomore shortstop Jerry Resh anchors the infield and bats third. He hit .320 as a freshman and got off to a fast start this season in Florida, going 6-for-13 in the four games with four RBI and three runs.
Senior Dave Carpenter (Westminster) is starting his fourth season at third; sophomores Eric Landseadel and Rob Lauver will share time at second and senior Jamie Wiles will play first. Sophomore newcomer Matt Lecorchick is the catcher.