Hawks hope to be road warriors

March 02, 2007|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

Hagerstown Community College baseball coach Scott Jennings hopes the Hawks can persevere through a tough schedule in order to have a successful 2007 season.

"Our biggest challenge right now is our schedule," Jennings said. "This will be the most ambitious schedule that we have had in my seven years here. We will play our first 17 games on the road and 24 of our first 31. We have 10 games in Florida and four games in North Carolina.

"We play nine games against teams that made it to the World Series last year and six games against teams that won their region and advanced to district play. We will be going against a lot of tough competition. Hopefully, we will be up to the challenge."

HCC opens its season Saturday at noon with a doubleheader at Essex.

The Hawks went 34-23-1 in 2006, setting a single-season school record for wins. It was their third straight season with 30 or more wins.


Right fielder Matt Ridenour (North Hagerstown) is the top returning hitter from last year with a .350 batting average. He led the team with 62 hits and was second with 43 RBI and earned All-Region and All-District honors. Ridenour batted .688 in the Region XX Tournament.

First baseman Matt Murray (North Hagerstown) had 44 RBI and batted .303. He was Second Team All-Region.

Other returning starters are third baseman James Scarberry (.306) and catcher Matt Umberger.

"I think hitting will be one of our strengths," Jennings said. "We hit the ball well in the fall. We are going to need both Murray and Ridenour to have good years. They will be hitting in the middle of the lineup."

Sophomore Chad Schlegel and freshman Tyler Beard (Williamsport) will rotate at second base, with Beard also sharing center field duties with Matt Byers (Boonsboro).

Cory Livengood (Waynesboro, Pa.) and David Zaminski will see the bulk of the playing time at shortstop.

Jacob Darr and Roland Thiele will battle for the left field spot. Darr also will see time behind the plate and at third base and Thiele will work as the designated hitter.

Corey Eisenhart and Michael Knight are the other catchers. Backup infielders will be shortstop Matt Fortese (Boonsboro) and third baseman Jason Gordner. Brian Nese will be a backup in the outfield.

Jennings has a mixture of sophomores and freshmen on his pitching staff.

"I think we have enough pitching depth," Jennings said. "We just have to see how the freshmen adapt to game situations."

Steven Smith, who won five games last season, returns along with Adam Thomke, Kyle Chronister and Ridenour.

The freshmen pitchers are Dylan Dunne, Ron Tobolski, Daniel Ditman, Jason Sutherland (Williamsport), Andrew Blickenstaff (Clear Spring) and Livengood.

"Smith, Thomke, Dunne and Tobolski should be the top starters," Jennings said. "Livengood and Ridenour will also pitch some, but we have to watch their innings because they are everyday position players. We want to keep them fresh. The bulk of the pitching staff should see some starts because we play so many games. The rotation will work itself out based on the results."

Jennings is confident about the Hawks' chances.

"There is no reason to think that we shouldn't compete for the region title," Jennings said. "It looks like there is a lot of potential on our team."

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