Coming off one of the more successful seasons in recent years, baseball teams in the Star Beacon coverage area will have to play at a high level to match the success of the 2012 season.
The Grand Valley Mustangs reached the final four in Division III before falling to Lima Central Catholic in a semifinal game, Jefferson came up just short in a Division II district title game against Lake Catholic while Edgewood (16-7), Conneaut (10-8), Pymatuning Valley (11-15), Lakeside (10-16) and Riverside (10-6) all had 10-plus win seasons.
Gone are Star Beacon Ashtabula County co-Players of the Year — Grand Valley’s Mitchell Lake and Edgewood’s Jeff Imbrogno — as is Pymatuning Valley coach of 17 years Steve Urchek.
So when the snow finally melts — and, although that seems unlikely at the moment, it will — the 2013 season will have a very different look than that of 2012.
But, while plenty will be different, much will remain the same. Back in the dugout will be longtime St. John coach Bill Schmidt.
A deep talent pool from across the coverage area will be ready to replace the seniors who are no longer with their respective programs.
The following is a break down of each team and what how each coach feels about his team’s chances in 2013:
Spartans’ coach Walker Graher returns for his second season at Conneaut after guiding the Spartans to a 10-8 season and a Division II sectional final appearance.
With one of the area’s top arms returning in left-handed Joey Borgerding, who posted a 1.77 ERA with 51 strikeouts and a 4-1 record last year, Graher will have his ace.
But when Borgerding isn’t on the mound, Graher said it’ll be important for his pitchers to find the zone.
“Our keys for success will have to include: Pitchers throwing strikes,” he said. “(Also) defense not giving teams extra outs, timely hitting, finding different ways to manufacture runs and getting solid contribution from our first-year starters/bench.”
Also returning for Conneaut will be senior lettermen Cody Martin (P-C), Michael Mirando (C-OF), Christian Williams (IF), Dylan Marici (P-IF) and C.J. Rice (P-OF).
Depth was an issue at times for the Spartans in 2012, but with six returning lettermen and 15 varsity players, including seven pitchers, Conneaut looks to have better depth than last season.
The Spartans remain without a conference this year so Graher said they’ll relish the opportunity to compete with fellow Ashtabula County teams.
“With being an independent school, we will need to use every game as a tool for motivation, improvement and getting better every day,” he said. “There are plenty of good opponents on our schedule that will prepare us for tournament time.
“Playing teams like Lakeside, Edgewood and Jefferson will all have a rivalry feel to it so there shouldn’t be any lack of excitement or motivation.
“It will be my job to get the most out of each player regardless of who we’re playing.”