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Plenty of experience returning to Hawks' baseball diamond

March 05, 2004|by JACK HILL III

Expectations are high this spring for the Hagerstown Community College baseball team.

The Hawks, ranked 17th in the preseason NJCAA Division I poll, return several players from last year's squad, which went 27-16-1 and claimed the Region XX championship for the first time in 10 years.

HCC finished second in the Eastern District Tournament to just barely miss advancing to the NJCAA World Series.

"I feel pretty good about our team right now," HCC coach Scott Jennings said. "At this point, our strength is probably our experience. We are returning six starters out of the eight position players.

"I think we have good balance on our roster. We have 12 sophomores and 12 freshmen, five left-handed pitchers and six right-handed pitchers. We also have good balance with the sticks, since we have both left-handed bats and right-handed bats."

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Jennings enters his fourth year as coach of the Hawks with a 76-47-1 record.

HCC returns all of its starting infielders. Travis Hebron (Frederick), returns at first base, Ryan Brady will be at second, Paul Conway is once again at shortstop and Zach Barkdoll (Greencastle) will play third base.

Hebron batted .380 with 29 RBI last season to be named First Team All-Region XX, while Conway batted .347 to earn All-Maryland JuCo honors.

Two of the three starting outfielders also return. All-Maryland JuCo center fielder Devan Ewell had a .333 average and 25 RBI in 2003, while left fielder Ryan Harju batted .293.

On the mound, Chris Anderson (Middletown), Tim Biser (Thomas Johnson), Adam Lorson, Casey Constable (Clear Spring), Shawn Ryan (South Hagerstown) and Colby Rickabaugh return.

Rickabaugh, the closer, had five saves to go along with a 3-2 record and 2.63 ERA last year.

Anderson, Biser (4-1, 3.87) and Lorson (3.11) return to their starting roles. Constable (1.17) and Ryan anchor the bullpen.

Freshmen Cole Bellon (North Hagerstown), Ralph Festa, Alex Miranda, Brad Brandt and Eric Miksitz join the staff.

The starting right field and catcher spots are in question. Jennings said Rickabaugh and Miksitz will alternate in right.

Jennings must choose between three freshmen behind the plate - Nathan Himes (Boonsboro), Ryan Leonard and Steven Von Bloch.

"Right now, catching is up for grabs," Jennings said. "I will probably play them all until somebody steps up and takes control of it."

The reserve infielders are first baseman Matt Tedrick (North Hagerstown), second baseman Marty Kaetzel (Boonsboro) and third baseman Jeremy Geesaman (Waynesboro). Tedrick will also see time as a designated hitter.

Robin Summey will be used as a utility outfielder.

"We play a lot of doubleheaders, so a lot of these guys will see time in doubleheaders," Jennings said.

The Hawks open their season at the Cocoa Expo in Cocoa, Fla. on Saturday, playing two games per day through Wednesday. HCC starts its home schedule March 15 at 1 p.m. against Mohawk Valley.

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