SPRING VALLEY — The strength of any high school team lies with its senior class and the 2014 Hall Red Devils will be a senior-dominated.
Hall coach Tom Keegan could put a senior at every position if he wanted with a cast of nine seniors return to boost the Red Devils’ prospects this spring. They will be joined by seven juniors and a sophomore.
“The nice thing about experience is that even though we have been stuck inside, a lot of defensive situations that we have been doing have been reteaching and they remember the calls and execution from last year, and they, in turn, are helping and passing things on to the newcomers,” Keegan said.
That experienced core includes senior Miguel Villareal, who will anchor the infield at short. He will be joined on the infield by classmates Zach Urbanski at second, Trevor Urbanski at first and Pete Mautino at third.
Other returners are seniors Taggert Venegas (OF/P), Austin Schmitt (P), Colton Zibert (OF/1B), Ian Trevier (OF) and Blake Moreno (C/DH). The new kids on the Hall diamond include junior outfielders Tyler Taber, Zach Vanderpool and A.J. Gaeta, infielders Julian Barroso, Grant Hill and Ryan Ott and utility man Josh McConnell and sophomore Adam Sangston (C/P).
The tall right-hander Schmitt assumes the No. 1 role on the pitching staff following the graduation of 2013 BCR Player of the Year Brett Fanning. The Red Devils have depth on the staff with Gaeta, Venegas, Barroso, Mautino, Trevier, Vanderpool and Taber all worked into the rotation.
“If the weather breaks, and we do get a full slate of games in a week’s time we feel that they will be able to chew up innings for us and keep us in the game,” Keegan said.
Time will tell how the Red Devils do offensively, Keegan said.
“Right now everyone looks like an all-stater hitting off tees, flip and soft toss,” he said. “I’m just trying to preach that offense is more than just hitting. Focusing on situations, moving runners, quality vs. non quality at bats.
The Red Devils will play in the Three Rivers Conference South Division for the first time with home and away games against the other six schools, and Hall is up for the challenge.
“I feel we should compete and be in the mix come May,” Keegan said. “The area schools will be very good with St. Bede, Princeton and Kewanee and from what I hear the Quad City schools have talent as well. No gimmies for sure.”
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