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HCC baseball team has experience on its side

February 23, 2008|By JACK HILL III

Hagerstown Community College baseball coach Scott Jennings said he expects the Hawks to pick up where they left off last year, when they went 33-22 for their fourth straight 30-win season and finished second to Potomac State in the Region XX Tournament.

"I'm optimistic that we're going to have another good year. We have 12 returning players from last year, so we have a lot of experience on the team," said Jennings, whose team opens the 2008 season today with a doubleheader in Brunswick, N.C.

The Hawks will have 11 pitchers on their 24-man roster.

Aerik Taylor (Williamsport), Spencer Cromer (South Hagerstown), Cory Livengood (Waynesboro, Pa.), Dylan Dunne, Kyle Chronister and Kyle Briggs will be the starters. Andrew Blickenstaff (Clear Spring), Jason Sutherland (Williamsport), David Plank (St. Maria Goretti), Craig Haupt (Boonsboro) and Kenny Feigley (South Hagerstown) will be the relievers.

Taylor transferred from Oklahoma State and has already signed to pitch at Radford next year. Livengood pitched to an impressive 7-1 record in 2007 to earn First Team All-Region honors, while Dunne had a 3-2 record.

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"I think we have a very strong pitching staff right now," Jennings said. "Pitching is always the name of the game. I am a firm believer that you are only as good as your pitching. Each pitcher is valuable to the staff. They all are going to need to contribute."

Mike Knight will be returning at catcher after batting .349 in 2007 to earn First Team All-Region honors and be an All-Tournament selection. Tommy Evans (North Hagerstown) will also play at catcher.

At first base is Alex Stover, a transfer from Ferrum, Va. Matt Greene, who was the MVP of the Diamond Classic, will be the starting second baseman. Greene will be backed up by Brian Nese. The two shortstops who will probably split playing time are Livengood and David Zaminski, who hit .310 in 2007.

At third base will be Jacob Darr (Thomas Johnson) and Jason Gordner. Darr has signed to play at Mount St. Mary's next year and can also be used in the outfield. Darr batted .319 and Gordner hit .298 in 2007.

Matt Byers (Boonsboro) will be in center field and Roland Thiele will play left field. Byers batted .311 in 2007. Thiele was second on the team with 44 RBIs as he hit .262 in 2007. Zach Smith will back up both players. Dunne and Charles Johnson will be in right field. Craig Parrill will be the designated hitter and can also play third base.

"We should do well offensively," Jennings said. "Right now, we just need to play. I think our hitting will improve as the weather improves. Right now, we just need to have some game situations."

Potomac State, which has won seven of the last eight Region XX Tournament titles, should be the team to beat again. The Catamounts are ranked No. 24 in the NJCAA preseason poll.

"Once again, I expect Potomac State to be our toughest opponent," Jennings said. "Right now, there is no reason to think otherwise. We know from the past that the road to the national tournament goes through Potomac State. I wouldn't be surprised if it happens again. At the same time, we are not underestimating anybody else in the region. It is a very competitive region."

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