1997 Baseball preview

March 23, 1997|By John W. Stewart

Aberdeen Eagles

1996 record: 3-15. Coach: Stu Hinch.

Top players: Jason Hutchison, Sr., P-OF; James Smith, Sr., OF; Ken Wilson, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Eagles hope for improvement, but a winning season hinges on playing a fundamentally sound game every time.

Bel Air Bobcats

1996 record: 16-7. Coach: Mike Ennis.

Top players: Mark Belcastro, Sr., SS; John Gostomski, Sr., OF; Keith Pfaff, Sr., 2B; Rob Yoho, Sr., OF.

Outlook: Four starters are among the 13 holdovers from a state championship team, and there is a good group up from the JV. Six returnees provide pitching depth, although it is relatively inexperienced. The defense should be solid, especially up the middle.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs

1996 record: 17-3. Coach: Bob Rudolph.

Top players: Adam Bantner, Sr., 2B; Steve Blum, Sr., OF; Ross Butler, Sr., SS; B. J. Casserly, Sr., 1B; Larry Jehnert, Sr., C; Andy Marcus, Sr., OF; Scott Rudolph, Sr., P/1B; Scott Schoendienst, Sr., OF; Chris Stockton, Sr., 3B/2B.

Outlook: Nine players return from a county championship team, and six more have moved up from a 13-1 JV team. Good pitching and solid hitting should be team strengths.

Edgewood Rams

1996 record: 9-12. Coach: David Robinson.

Top players: Frank Diraimo, Sr., 3B; Kirk Forbes, Sr., SS; Bobby Ghiardello, Jr., P; Frank Gullian, Sr., 1B/P; Ryan Kornke, Sr., OF; Wayne Porter, Sr., C; Rex Sapasap, Jr., IF.

Outlook: There is a solid group of players, but pitching is an early question mark.

Fallston Cougars

1996 record: 11-11. Coach: Rob Limpert.

Top players: Dan Green, Sr., P; Matt Hammock, Sr., C; Paul Kelly, Sr., P/OF; Chris Little, Sr., SS; Mike Duncan, Soph., OF/DH.

Outlook: Five starters are among 11 holdovers, and this group, combined with seven from a strong JV squad, are expected to make this a very competitive team in and out of the county.

Harford Christian Eagles

1996 record: No varsity team. Coach: Rich Davis.

Top players: Andy Canaap, Sr., C; Justin Cross, Sr., OF; Nathan Olinger, Sr., P/SS; Greg Davis, Soph., SS/P.

Outlook: The sport returns to the varsity level with a squad of 13, and the nucleus of seniors is expected to help the team be competitive, particularly in the Susquehanna Independent Athletic Conference.

Harford Tech Cobras

1996 record: 3-15. Coach: Joe Foltz.

Top players: Jason Blevins, Sr., P/OF; Joe Lopez, Sr., OF; Cory Lucas, Sr., P/IF.

Outlook: The squad turnout was light, so senior pitchers will be counted on to carry the load. They will be especially important, as one problem is finding a good catcher. A reasonable goal will be to surprise a few teams.

Havre de Grace Warriors

1996 record: 9-10. Coach: Joe Oswald.

Top players: Jason Bauer, Sr., 1B; Larry Dougherty, Sr., 2B; Joe Oliphant, Sr., 1B; Ken Pasley, Sr., P; Damon Presberry, Sr., OF; Roy Strong, Sr., P; Matt Blethen, Jr., OF/P; Chad Blevins, Jr., SS; Jason Kingsley, Jr., P/OF; Brad Spence, Jr., C.

Outlook: There are 11 holdovers (seven starters) on a 14-player squad that tied for second in the county league last year. Pitching depth and tough defense are strengths. In Oswald's eight years with the program, the last four as head coach, this is the first all-junior-senior squad.

John Carroll Patriots

1996 record: 12-11. Coach: Al Ward.

Top players: Chris Boyle, Sr., P/IF; Tom Close, Sr., OF/P; Shaun Cullen, Sr., C/IF; Larry Hughes, Sr., OF.

Outlook: Looking for senior leadership for a young, untested team that includes seven from last year's JV. It will get a spring trip to Vero Beach, Fla., then come back for its first season in the MIAA A Conference.

Joppatowne Mariners

1996 record: 10-9. Coach: Al Zelinski.

Top players: Adam Hawkey, Sr., SS/P; Mike Holston, Sr., xTC 3B/OF/P; Kevin Johnson, Sr., IF/P; Chris Kahl, Sr., OF/P; Jonathan Andrews, Jr., C; Rob Burns, Soph., IF.

Outlook: A solid starting lineup should help improve on last year's record, but a light turnout means few reserves.

North Harford Hawks

1996 record: 4-14. Coach: Tim Larrimore.

Top players: Bobby Evans, Sr., P; Paul Pedri, Sr., C; Marshall Richardson, Sr., 3B; Mike Pezzica, Soph., SS; Randy Weeks, Soph., P.

Outlook: A strong group of veterans is expected to make this an improved team. Pedri, a three-year varsity player who caught every Hawks pitch a year ago, has tools to be one of the top county catchers. Pezzica and Weeks started and played well as freshmen, and overall the pitching is young but strong. Three-fourths of the infield returns.

Pub Date: 3/23/97

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