First Posted: 3/28/2012
Local high school baseball teams are preparing for the start of their seasons. Although Abington Heights, Lackawanna Trail and Lakeland lost some key members from last year's squads, each coach is confident their team can compete at a high level.
The Comets had a successful season last year, finishing with a 10-7 record. They were defeated by the eventual state runner-up Tunkhannock in the second round of the District 2 Class AAA district playoffs.
They have to replace a large portion of their starting lineup as shortstop Justin Klingman, second baseman Mike Umerich, catcher Matt Badamo, first baseman Dan Pisanchyn, pitcher/outfielder Jeff Roba, outfielder Derek Kraack, third baseman Zach Klein, and outfielder/pitcher Ryan Smith graduated off last year's team.
The Comets return a few starters from last season in senior pitcher Robbie Ayre, junior pitcher/shortstop/outfielder Kevin Elwell and junior pitcher/second baseman Dante Pasqulichio.
Senior Eric Montella is expected to take over at first base while senior Connor Pacyna will be the starting catcher. Senior Brandon Pacyna will play third base and pitch, senior Jerry Burke and junior Josh Slocum will see time in the outfield.
Freshman Tyler Ksiazek is expected to contribute as a pitcher and shortstop
Head coach Bill Zalewski is counting on his large senior class to lead the way while the younger players gain experience.
"We have 10 seniors who we expect to have a big impact. We're very excited that a lot of our pitching is back, that's a good place to start. The kids have played well in a couple scrimmages and are working hard. We're in a very tough conference, but anything can happen."
Zalewski expects Delaware Valley, North Pocono and Scranton to provide the toughest competition in their division
The Comets open their Lackawanna League Division 1 schedule April 2 at Delaware Valley at 4:30 p.m.
The Lions finished last season with a 15-2 record. They won the Lackawanna League Division 3 title and advanced to the District 2 Class A title game, losing to Old Forge.
They must replace pitcher Tanner Holmes, outfielder Erich Aten and shortstop Mason Mecke.
Trail returns three senior starters in pitcher/first basemen Steve Miller, outfielder Matt Aten, catcher Ben Lehman, along with junior outfielder Vic Rosa, and sophomore pitcher/first basemen/outfielder Matt Flynn.
Sophomore Jonathon Zedar saw some playing time in the outfield last season and will factor into the Lions lineup.
Head coach Todd Peters also expects senior outfielder Caleb Darling, junior infielder Ben McLaughlin and infielder/pitcher Kyle Munley, and freshman Liam Dougherty and Cooper Rosiak to compete for playing time
Peters will count on experienced starting pitching and solid defense to lead the Lions.
"We have some starting pitchers back, that's a positive," he said. "That should be strength for us. We have to replace some guys who hit the ball well for us, but we're hoping our seniors will step into that role this season. Our goals are to compete for the league title and get back to the district championship game."
Although Peters listed Blue Ridge, Montrose, Mountain View and Western Wayne as some of the top contenders, he expects the league to be balanced and strong overall.
The Lions open their Lackawanna League Division 3 schedule on Monday, April 2 at Elk Lake at 4:30 p.m.
The Chiefs finished last season with a 6-8 record and lost to Holy Redeemer in the first round of the District 2 Class AA playoffs.
They lost four members of their starting lineup from a year ago in second baseman Kevin Carito, right fielder P.J. Mills, catcher Jared Beilman, and left fielder Chris Vojick.
Head coach Larry Piccini welcomes back four juniors starters in pitcher/shortstop Eric Grabowski, pitcher/center fielder Joey Natale, Tyler Brady will move from the outfield to catcher, and first baseman Cody Delfino. According to Piccini, Brady also played catcher as a freshman.
Senior pitcher Sean Durkin also returns to the Chiefs' rotation.
Senior outfielder/pitcher Alex Filarsky and infielder Kurt Burns, along with freshman infielder/outfielder Josh Natale and third baseman/pitcher Shane Rivenburgh will compete for playing time.
According to Piccini, the Chiefs need to be able to close out games in order to be a strong team in the division.
"We have to be able to win our close games," he said. "Last year, we lost four one-run games.
Piccini will lean on his junior class for leadership and production throughout the season.
"Those four guys have started since there freshman year," he said. "I think that experience will help us."
Piccini expects Valley View to be the top contender for the division title.
The Chiefs open their Lackawanna League Division 2 schedule April 2 at home against Valley View at 4:30 p.m.