HAGERSTOWN — Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Hagerstown Community College.
If HCC’s baseball team needed a motto, that would fit, especially since the Hawks’ roster is stacked with familiar faces.
“Our roster has a heavy local flavor.” HCC baseball coach Scott Jennings said. “There are 11 Washington County players and two players from nearby Greencastle (Pa.), which says a lot for baseball in this area.”
The local brigade is headed by a pair of notable sophomores.
Pitcher Jay Shafer (Smithsburg) was named to All-JuCo and All-Region first teams after collecting an 8-2 record. Shafer, who also plays second base, has signed to play at South Alabama.
First baseman Jordan Thurber (Clear Spring) hit .402 last season to earn All-Region second team honors and a spot on the All-Region team. He also spends time as a pitcher.
Other sophomores from Washington County are outfielders Marcellus Sumlin (North Hagerstown) and Seth Poffenberger (Boonsboro) and first baseman Tyler Walsh (Boonsboro). Pitcher Colby Fisher (North Hagerstown) returns after sitting out last season.
HCC added to its sophomore base when pitcher/outfielder Kyle Crist (Clear Spring) and pitcher John Shobe (Boonsboro) transferred into the program. Crist is comes from West Virginia State, while Shobe played at Chesapeake.
The Washington County freshmen are second baseman Tyeler Presgraves (South Hagerstown), catcher Corey Morgan (Clear Spring) and pitcher Brian Lesher (Clear Spring).
Rounding out the local contingent are pitchers Dylan Schaeffer and Cole Sellers, both freshmen from Greencastle.
HCC will be trying to improve on a 33-19 record, which allowed the Hawks to pass the 30-win plateau for the seventh straight season.
“I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do that again,” Jennings said. “We are pretty balanced.”
One of HCC’s strengths will be the pitching staff.
“I like our pitchers right now,” Jennings said. “They are throwing well. The pitching is always the key. You are not going to go anywhere unless your pitchers do the job.”
And you can’t score runs without hitters.
“I don’t think our hitters will be power hitters,” Jennings said. “They will hit for good batting averages. We’ll hit well enough to stay in games.Our home run production will go down a little bit due to the new bat regulations. The new bats are restricted and they don’t have as much pop.”
HCC’s success could stem to the ability to play the road warrior role.
“If you look at our schedule, the first 18 games are on the road,” Jennings said. “So, that is going to be a big test for us. We will find out real quick how good we are. Right now, I am very pleased with the way that things are going.”
HCC will open up the season on Saturday with a doubleheader at Southeastern Community College (N.C.) in what Jennings hopes will be the starting point for reaching the Region XX tournament at Potomac State on May 13-15.
“We advanced to the Region XX championship game for five straight years and six times in the previous seven years before that was stopped last year,” Jennings said. “So, we are hungry to get back there this year.”