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Expectations are up for HCC baseball

March 03, 2006|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

Three straight successful seasons by the Hagerstown Community College baseball team have raised coach Scott Jennings' expectations for the 2006 season.

"We expect to be in the thick of things," Jennings said. "We are coming off of back-to-back 30-win seasons. We also won the Region XX Tournament in 2003. We have a strong program in place and things should only continue to improve."

Last year, HCC finished with a 30-20 overall record and was the runner-up in the Region XX Tournament to Potomac State.

Jennings will have 12 hurlers to choose from among his pitching staff, including returning sophomores Andy Taylor, Chad Lorson, Robbie Davis and Hugh Wescott and sophomore transfer Jay Love.

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Freshman left-handers Mike Cholet, Kyle Chronister and T.J. Thomas and right-handers Steven Smith, Adam Thomke, Tony Livelsberger and Matt Ridenour also will be competing for innings.

"All of our sophomore pitchers should do well and we are counting on them," Jennings said. "Right now, the freshman pitchers are throwing well. Their playing time will be determined by how well they perform. Right now, I wouldn't be afraid to put any of our 12 pitchers into the game."

Sophomore Eric Laird and redshirt freshman Matt Umberger will share time at catcher, while freshman Matt Murray and sophomore Alex Bower will play first base.

Freshmen Chad Schlegel and Trevor Cobb will play second base. Sophomore Drew Counselman is back at shortstop. He will be backed up by freshman James Scarberry.

Sophomore Kyle Robinson returns at third base. He'll be backed up by freshman Kyle Mallow.

"We are two deep in each infield position," Jennings said. "We are going to need our infield to play well. We are going to depend a lot on Counselman, both offensively and defensively. He is going to have to make the routine plays.

"Murray is swinging the bat real well right now. Mallow is a big, strong kid. He can swing the bat. With Schlegel at second base, that will strengthen the defense."

Sophomore Lowell Coats is returning in center field.

"Coats was our leadoff hitter last year and he should fill that role again this year," Jennings said.

Ridenour likely will play in right field. Freshman Billy Spina and sophomore Andrew Murray will compete for the left field spot. Cobb and Chronister will back up in the outfield. Murray and Chronister could also see time as the designated hitter.

"Offensively, we're going to be stronger than we have been in the last few years," Jennings said. "But the name of the game is pitching and defense. I feel good about our pitching, if we play good defense."

HCC will open up its season with three home games, starting with a doubleheader against Essex at noon Saturday. The Hawks will play host to Rockville in a single game Wednesday before hitting the road for 10 games in the Cocoa Expo in Cocoa, Florida.

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