Local Sports: High School Baseball Preview

March 19, 1996|By Glenn P. Graham

Carroll Christian Patriots

1995 record: 8-3. Coach: Matt Brethauer.

Top players: Casey Davis, Jr., SS/P; Chris Darling, Jr., 1B/P; Sam Lieb, So., 2B/OF; Paul Albaugh, So., OF; Mark Elban, So.; IF; Chip Leonard, Sr., C; Josh Belcher, Jr., SS/2B; Mike Craig, So., P.

Outlook: Brethauer, who played at Lancaster (Pa.) Bible College, takes over for former coach Randy Peterson and will stress fundamentals to his young Patriots. "My philosophy is to have a good defensive team, and we're working hard on cutting down the errors. Things are looking pretty good," he said. Davis, in his third varsity season, is the player who will make things happen. He's the Patriots' top pitcher, their best defensive player when he's at short and gets the offense started near the top of the lineup. Belcher will be another guy to get on base, and Brethauer is looking to Darling and Albaugh to produce runs. "It looks like we're going to do whatever we can to generate runs," Brethauer said. A big key to the pitching staff will be the progress of Craig, a left-hander with good velocity. "He throws real hard and has a pretty good curve. We're trying to get him over the plate with a little more consistency. He's working hard," Brethauer said. Darling also will see time on the mound. Brethauer still has some questions with the outfield, where Albaugh is a mainstay. Lieb brings versatility with the ability to play out there or at second. Leonard returns after not playing last year and will provide leadership behind the plate.

Francis Scott Key Eagles

1995 record: 13-5. Coach: Bob Reese.

Top players: Robbie Green, Sr., P/IF; Mike Crawmer, Sr., OF/P; Darrell Smith, Sr., P/C; Larry Airing, Sr., OF; Gabe Stephenson, Sr., P/OF/IF; Shaun Diehl, Sr., 2B/OF

Outlook: "B" squad the past three years, inherits a senior-laiden varsity team from former coach Bob Caples. The Eagles have 11 seniors nine with varsity experience and Reese said there's plenty of versatility throughout the roster. Green and Crawmer will anchor a pitching staff that will go seven deep. "I'm counting on them to throw strikes," Reese said. "My philosophy is defense first. I expect our pitchers to throw strikes and make opponents put the ball in play." Green will play short when he's not on the mound, and Crawmer will spend a lot of time in center field. Stephenson and Diehl can play the infield or outfield with Smith behind the plate. "All these kids are good athletes with most successful in other sports," Reese said. "The middle infield, catcher and center field are positions you don't want much changeover. My job with the versatility we have is to find out where these kids are best at and get them there. Most of them have been together a long time playing baseball and other sports and have confidence in each other that they can make the plays." Look for the Eagles to run more this season and generate offense on the bases. Senior third baseman Billy Baker, scrappy at the plate, will lead off for the Eagles, with senior first baseman Dan Harmon projected to hit third in front of Crawmer. "We're going to be very aggressive moving runners over, using the hit-and-run and stealing some bases," Reese said. "It's important to be able to manufacture runs, particularly early in the season, when it's cold and the conditions aren't ideal for hitters."

Liberty Lions

1995 record: 11-9. Coach: Steve Insley.

Top players: Matt Horrell, Sr., OF/C; Daryl Knight, P/1B; Ed Ruch, Sr., P; Jon Felmey, Jr., 2B; Ryan Renehan, Jr., SS; John Hill, Jr., P.

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