Hawks set to put winter behind them in sunny Florida

March 04, 2005|by JACK HILL III/Staff Correspondent

People know that winter is coming to an end when the Hagerstown Community College Hawks are getting ready to start their baseball season.

The Hawks open up the 2005 season with a doubleheader Saturday in the annual Cocoa Expo at Cocoa, Fla. HCC will play 10 games in Florida before returning to Hagerstown for its home opener March 15 against Garrett Community College.

"We're playing a very tough schedule," HCC manager Scott Jennings said. "We're going to find out real quick where we stand."

Jennings said he thinks the Hawks, who finished 30-19 last season, will be strong on the mound this year.

Southpaw Eric Miksitz, Andy Taylor (Williamsport) and Alex Miranda will head the starting rotation. Cole Bellon (North Hagerstown), Robbie Davis (Frederick), Chad Lorson and Jeremy McAfee (South Hagerstown) are all battling for the fourth spot on the starting staff.


Hugh Wescott (St. John's at Prospect Hall), David Wallace (Middletown), Derek Bressi and southpaw Lowell Coats (Thomas Johnson) will work out of the bullpen.

"Right now, pitching is our strength," Jennings said. "I would say that we have more hard throwers this year than we have had in the past. For the most part, I am really pleased with the progress of the pitching staff. We're going to rely heavily on our pitching staff. They pretty much have good control."

Nathan Himes (Boonsboro) and Eric Laird will get the majority of the time behind the plate. Both are left-handed hitters.

Marty Kaetzel (Boonsboro) is likely to start at second base. Drew Counselman will be the starting shortstop. Kyle Robinson (North Hagerstown) and Steve Von Bloch are competing for the third base position.

Matt Tedrick (North Hagerstown) has the edge at first base, with Alex Bower and Andrew Murray backing him up. Murray will also play in the outfield and at designated hitter.

"Murray is probably our top power hitter," Jennings said. "He is a big, strong kid with a lot of pop. We need to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup."

Coats, Miksitz and Taylor will play in the outfield when not on the mound. They will be backed up by Orland Dean (North Hagerstown) and J.R. Lockwood.

"Coats will probably be our starting center fielder and our leadoff hitter," Jennings said. "We are looking for him to make things happen for us."

Fifteen of the 22 players on the Hawks roster are freshmen, which is one cause for concern for Jennings.

"Right now, I would say that the hitting is probably our biggest question mark," Jennings said. "When you have got a predominantly freshman team, you never know what you are going to have until it is game time. We probably won't be a power-hitting team. We are going to have to manufacture runs."

Even with the relative lack of experience, Jennings said he thinks HCC can compete for the region title.

"We don't take any team for granted, but normally, you have to beat Potomac State in order to advance in the playoffs," Jennings added. "I expect to have a competitive team again this year. I believe that in order to win, you have to expect to win."

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