MANLIUS — After graduating a senior heavy squad, the Bureau Valley baseball team will be looking for new leaders to step up to the plate this season.
Head coach John Matlick likes his mix of returning starters and newcomers to a team looking to be competitive in the Three Rivers Conference. The Storm have nine seniors and six juniors on the roster, and are looking to improve on a 6-17 record last year by scoring a few more runs on offense this season.
“Last year’s team was a very strong defense and pitching team, but we struggled on the offensive side of the ball which hurt our record,” Matlick said. “If we could have produced a couple of more runs, our record would have been different.”
The early returns in Storm camp show a team which will make a lot of contact in the batter’s box, according to Matlick.
Josh Mead, who can play anywhere in the infield, returns to hit leadoff in the Storm lineup. While Colby Wittig (OF), Jason Trussen (1B), and the platoon at catcher of Chris Shynk and Gage Smith will be some of the key hitters.
The Storm will also return Kyle Rokey, Ryan Young and Mead to anchor the starting pitching staff. “All three saw time as starters last year and have shown they can throw strikes and compete at the varsity level,” Matlick said.
Seniors Frank Monier and David Dzurisin and juniors Sean Shepard and Trussen will also see some time pitching this year.
Rounding out the roster are infielder Dylan Martin and outfielders Ryan Lootens, Jeremy Allison, Marty McMahon and Scott Brown.
Poor weather has forced the Storm, like all area teams, indoors this preseason. While indoors, the Storm have made the most of their time, working on fundamentals like throwing, fielding, hitting and base running. The pitchers have been throwing in bullpens and then facing live hitters on the weekends. Matlick says he is still piecing together the starting lineup.
“We have to get outside more and really focus on a couple of things before we make some decisions,” he said.
In the Three Rivers North Conference, Matlick feels Erie/Prophetstown, who returns most of their players from a year ago, to be one of the strongest teams. He also expects Newman to sneak up on some teams and Morrison to be a contender like they usually are.
Bureau Valley hopes to be in that mix of contenders by season’s end.
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