After tying for a NAC title in his first season, coach Nathan Smith is looking to build off that success in 2014.
That will start with their offense, led by junior Division III all-state selection Travis Kiser (C-OF).
“I believe we will have enough offense to keep us in most of our games,” he said. “The key to how good our team will become is how our pitching develops. We will have to rely on some promising, but young, arms.”
Also returning for the Lakers as lettermen are seniors Collin Winkler (3B-P), Hunter Rhoades (1B-P) and Mitchell Dick (SS) and junior Chase Thurber (C-OF).
“We also have some good position battles between our juniors and sophomores,” Smith said. “The depth of our team should help us maintain a high level during the season.”
Despite some losses from graduation, Smith plans to contend for another NAC title.
“I believe we should be very competitive within our conference,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors, but have maintained an extremely talented core. I think our lineup will pose a lot of problems for teams if we progress with our current development. Last year was a very competitive league and I expect the same this year.”
Always one of the most competitive programs in the area, Ed Humes returns for his 15th year in charge of the Beavers program.
One win shy of 200 for his career, Humes has a veteran group that should help Riverside improve on last year’s 13-16 record.
“We need our experienced pitchers to carry us until our hitters get going,” he said. “As always, we need our best players to be that on a daily basis, our best players.”
Leading a group of seven senior lettermen is catcher-pitcher Dan Walters, outfielder Ross Dawson, Drew Barlow (P-OF), Jake Harris (INF-P), Garham Beccker (INF-P), Drew Tarnow (OF-P) and Anthony Lilly (C-P).
Humes likes his defense, but offense is the focus of his concerns.
“We should be very solid defensively, a little concerned with our offense,” he said.
Also back are juniors Brandon Shaffer (SS-P) and Ron Krsolovic (2B-P).
As far as the PAC is concerned, Humes know who should be at the top.
“North is still the team to beat, along with Chardon and South,” he said.