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Hawks ready for more pop this spring

March 07, 2003|by JACK HILL III

Hagerstown Community College baseball coach Scott Jennings is ready for the Hawks to turn their hitting up a notch this spring.

"I think that this year will probably be a little bit different than the previous two years," Jennings said, "because I think that this year's strength will be our offense.

"This might be the best hitting that I have had in three years since I have been here. I think that we are going to score some runs this year. It is a pretty well-balanced lineup. We probably have more pop this year than in past years."

All-Maryland JuCo Conference player Joe Helisek (Williamsport, Pa.) will return as the designated hitter.

There are six players competing for the three outfield spots. All-Conference Nick Wenger (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Zach Glover (Martinsburg, W.Va.) are the two returning starters.

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Then there's Devan Ewell (Manassas, Va.), who was drafted by the Kansas Citly Royals out of high school last spring. Ewell hasn't signed a contract yet, but still can up to one week before the June draft.

"Ewell has a lot of raw talent and he is possibly our best athlete on the squad," Jennings said. "We are six-deep in the outfield. Any of these six outfielders can start."

Ben Leonard (Waynesboro, Pa.), Ryan Harju (Purcellville, Va.) and Colby Rickabaugh (Newville, Pa.) are the other outfielders. Leonard is a sophomore transfer from Shippensburg University. Harju is the only left-handed hitter on the team.

Travis Hebron (Frederick, Md.) and Chris Anderson (Middletown, Md.) are the two first basemen.

The Hawks will be three-deep in the middle of the infield. Zach Barkdoll (Greencastle, Pa.), Ryan Brady (McSherrystown, Pa.) and Paul Conway (Pennsauken, N.J.) will share time at the two middle-infield spots. Barkdoll is the son of the Hawks' 1979 All-Conference shortstop Tod Barkdoll.

Third base will be split by Brad Kimball (Clarksville, Md.) and Justin Wenger (Harrisburg, Pa.), who is Nick's twin brother. Wenger will still be catching. HCC is three-deep at the catcher position. The other two catchers are Paul Medina (Beltsville, Md.) and Brian Kirkpatrick (Waynesboro, Pa.).

Jennings said he has some solid pitchers.

"I have 10 pitchers on my roster and seven of them are freshmen," Jennings said. "I have a lot of confidence in our three sophomore pitchers: Ryan Devlin, Matt Bellon and Bryan Crossley."

Bellon (North Hagerstown) was a first-team, all-conference pitcher last year with a 6-2 record and a 1.45 ERA, the lowest ERA in the conference. Devlin (Waynesboro, Pa.) signed with the University of Pittsburgh during the early signing period in the fall. Devlin was 4-3 with a 2.46 ERA last year, while Crossley (Williamsport, Pa.) got some valuable experience.

HCC has three freshman left-handers in Tim Biser (Thomas Johnson), Adam Lorson (Montoursville, Pa.) and Casey Constable (Clear Spring).

The freshman right-handers on the staff are Jeff Buterworth (Northern Cambria, Pa.), Shawn Ryan (South Hagerstown), Anderson and Rickabaugh.

"Colby Rickabaugh will probably be our closer," Jennings said. "Rickabaugh is probably the hardest thrower on the pitching staff right now."

HCC, looking to improve on its 21-19 record, will start its season on Saturday with a five-day trip to the Cocoa Expo in Cocoa, Fla.

"We will have 14 games this year against teams that are ranked in the preseason top-20 poll," Jennings said.

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