MANLIUS — John Matlick likes the experience he has coming back this year. Now, he wants to see it in action on the baseball field.
Due to the weather, the Bureau Valley Storm baseball squad has been practicing indoors for the past few weeks and had their first two games of the season cancelled. While the Storm have gotten good work done in the cages, there are some things that just can’t be replicated unless on the playing field.
Because of those limitations early in the season, that experience from last year will be leaned upon early in the season as the Storm look to improve on a 7-25 campaign in 2012.
“We have a lot of returning starters from a year ago, so in regards to experience we do have a lot,” said Matlick, now in his sixth year as skipper of the Storm. “Now, it’s a matter of using that experience from a year ago and applying it to this season. If we can learn from past experience, we will have a successful season.”
The Storm infield will be the strength of this year’s team as they return four of their top hitters – Bryce Hansen, Trevin Kennedy, Cody Mattingly and McKinley Kruger — from a year ago.
Hansen (3B) hit .323 and led the county with 11 doubles last season. Matlick hopes a minor tweak this offseason to a more open batting stance will allow him to work the whole field.
“He is a guy that has a good approach at the plate and knows the strike zone,” said Matlick. “He understands when he needs to be more aggressive or cut it down to make contact.”
Kennedy, who will catch and pitch, hit .287 at the plate last year. Mattingly batted .278 and drove in 16 runs and will return to first base. Kruger will start at shortstop and also see time on the mound.
The pitching staff is an open competition according to Matlick, with everyone having a shot to compete.
In addition to Kennedy and Kruger, Keaton Wagenknecht and Kyle Rokey will make up the starting rotation. Wagenknecht, a lefty, struck out 57 batters in 53 innings of work last season. Rokey is a nice prospect, with a sparkling 1.91 ERA and a team-leading two wins as a sophomore last season.
Andrew Harshman, Ryan Young and David Dzurisin will all see relief duties.
“Right now we do not have an ace because (our pitchers) are all pretty even and bring different approaches to the mound,” said Matlick.
Seniors Logan Marquez (C-OF), Josh Renner (OF), Josh Merry (OF) and juniors Frank Monier (INF), Marty McMahon (1B), Colby Wittig (OF),Ryan Lootens (OF) and Jeremy Allison (INF) round out the Storm roster.
After going through some growing pains last year, the Storm have a few goals they would like to accomplish to improve on last season.”
“We want to get our win total in double figures this year, we would like to compete for our conference title and we would like to win a regional,” said Matlick.