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WVC BASEBALL PREVIEW


February 16. 2013 3:32AM
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DIVISION I EAST


Coughlin



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 6-9, fourth place; Lost in D2 first round



State classification: 3A



Coach: Moe Rodzinak



Home field: Hilldale Park, North Main Street, Plains Twp.



Outlook: Five seniors with starting experience return for the Crusaders, who already have a preseason win over 4A Scranton under their belts. Dom Gulius and Joe Parsnik, both of whom have led the team in hitting in the past, are back along with varsity vets like Dylan Concini, Kyle Cunningham and Jordan Sod. Coughlin's season may depend on how quickly and effectively the pitching staff develops with the departures of long-time ace Anthony Grillini and Bob Sorokas, the No. 2 starter a year ago. Senior Eric Heffers and junior Josh Featherman both made spot starts in 2011.



Crestwood



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 3-12, sixth place; Lost in D2 first round



State classification: 3A



Coach: Mark Modrovsky



Home field: Mountain Post Legion, Church Road, Mountain Top



Outlook: A rocky regular season didn't stop the Comets from putting a scare into state finalist Tunkhannock in last year's district playoffs. For Crestwood, 2011 was a rebuilding year in which many lineup combinations and pitching options were considered. The Comets lose top hitters Zack Berg and Matt Ritz from a year ago but return players like Nick Aigeldinger, Anthony Caladie, Jesse Quintiliani, Dom Sartini and Elliot Snyder. Shane Casey is back on the mound after starting a team-high five WVC games and then again for Crestwood in the playoffs.



Hazleton Area



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 9-6, second place; Lost in D2-4 semifinals



State classification: 4A



Coach: Gino Cara



Home field: Rex Antinozzi Field, East 22nd Street, Hazleton



Outlook: The Cougars return an experienced lineup that will challenge for a district crown. Hitters like Matt Barletta give the Cougars consistency while two of the regular starters on the mound – Anthony Zaloga and Erik Johnson – are also back for another run at states. Six players who were typically in the lineup last season are back for Hazleton Area, leaving the Cougars to replace veterans like John Medvecky, Josh Bayzick and George Nikonenko.



Holy Redeemer



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 8-7, third place; Lost in D2 championship



State classification: 2A



Coach: Chris Ritsick



Home field: Hollenback Park, N. Washington Street, Wilkes-Barre



Outlook: Back-to-back trips to the district final have the Royals hoping the third time is the charm. A third straight shot at the crown will come without veterans like Steve Ruch, Mark Malloy and Ted Ritsick. But Redeemer still has firepower in the form of senior Christian Choman, an Iona recruit. His future school has no qualms with him pitching in high school, so Choman figures to see more time on the mound this season, joining Pat Condo, the Royals No. 2 starter from a year ago.



Nanticoke



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 3-12, fifth place; Lost in D2 first round



State classification: 3A



Coach: Dean Myers



Home field: High school, Kosciuszko Street, Nanticoke / Ted Hiller Park, Honey Pot



Outlook: Though the win total only went up by one from 2010, Nanticoke was a much improved team last season. In Dean Myers' first campaign in charge, the Trojans lost five games by just one run, including a pair against division champ Pittston Area and another against 2A finalist Holy Redeemer. With four of the team's top five hitters back from a year ago – Bobby Briggs, Joe Yudichak, Josh Decker and Jeff Jezewski – Nanticoke is hopeful that experience starts turning those narrow defeats into victories.



Pittston Area



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 11-4, first place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: 3A



Coach: Paul Zaffuto



Home field: Primary Center, Rock Street, Hughestown



Outlook: Replacing a productive senior class won't be easy for the Patriots in their division title defense, but they have another young and talented group ready to step up. A few of them, like sophomore Josh Razvillas, have already made an impact at the varsity level. Razvillas is the team's leading returning hitter with the graduations of Josh Savakinus, Jordan Bone, R.J. Emmett and Ron Musto. Chuck Bressler and Michael Schwab are in line to start on the mound. Standout athlete Jordan Houseman has joined the squad.



DIVISION I WEST


Berwick



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 4-10, fifth place; Lost in D2 first round



State classification: 3A



Coach: Brian Pinterich



Home field: North Berwick Field, Heights Road, Berwick



Outlook: Now four years removed from their state championship, the Bulldogs are looking to climb back up the standings. Pinterich said he sees some similarities in the progress of this year's team, anchored by a strong crop of juniors and the group that improved in 2007 and eventually won the PIAA Class 3A crown in 2008. Much of last year's lineup returns, led by veteran T.J. Lashock and a deep pitching staff. Scoring runs has been an issue for the Bulldogs in recent years, but experience should pay off for the 2012 roster.



Dallas



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 8-6, third place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: 3A



Home field: Township Field, Church Street, Dallas



Coach: Ken Kashatus



Outlook: Five everyday starters from a strong defensive squad are back for the Mountaineers with seniors Paul Narcum, Deep Patel and Bobby Saba joining juniors Greg Petorak and Brian Stepniak. Dallas will, however, have to replace its top two hitters from 2011 in Travis DeBona and Marc Noyalis, a two-time all-star. Stepniak, a 6-foot-5 right-hander, has seen time on the mound for the past two seasons and impressed as a sophomore, splitting starting duties with Noyalis.



Tunkhannock



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 12-2, first place; Won D2 championship, PIAA runner-up



State classification: 3A



Coach: Gary Custer



Home field: High school, West Tioga Street, Tunkhannock



Outlook: The two-time defending district champs remain one of the top teams in the area despite losing the production of Division I talents like Mike Healey and Mike Papi, as well as valuable players like Kyle Custer and Ty Saylor. The Tigers still return a handful of starters from that prolific team, including one of the league's best players in Rich Condeelis, a difference-maker at the plate and on the mound. Wes Custer, Josh McClain, Jeremy Lee and Alex Zaner were all everyday players last season.



Wyoming Area



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 7-7, fourth place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: 3A



Coach: Chick Andrewscavage



Home field: Atlas Field, Erie Street, Exeter



Outlook: The Warriors have come a long way in the past two years, winning three district playoff games and being competitive in a tough division. To keep things rolling in 2012, Wyoming Area will break in a handful of new starters while replacing a productive senior class that included players like P.J. Bone and Kody Nowicki. The good news is that senior Dylan Maloney is back after finishing 2011 as one of the league's top pitchers, striking out 50 in WVC play. Maloney is also the top returning hitter on the team.



Wyoming Valley West



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 9-5, second place; Lost in D2-4 quarterfinals



State classification: 4A



Coach: John Milius



Home field: Spartan Stadium, Gates Avenue, Kingston



Outlook: Valley West's pitching staff should have the Spartans right back in contention in both the division and the district. Old Dominion recruit Tommy Alexander and Matt Zielen are both coming off impressive seasons as starters, combining for nearly 100 strikeouts in WVC play. Joe Pechulis and Zane Stelevich have both been effective on the mound as well. At the plate, Pechulis and Alexander join returning starters Stephen Dosiak and Mike Leonard. Gone is last season's leading hitter, Chris Clocker.



DIVISION II


GAR



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 2-12, eighth place; Lost in D2 first round



State classification: 2A



Coach: Vito Pasone



Home field: Coal Street Park, Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre



Outlook: Pasone takes over the Grenadiers after a two-year stretch that saw them slip to the bottom of the division standings. A long-time youth coach in the area, Pasone said the team's main goal is to rebuild the perception of the program. He'll get started with a promising crop of sophomores that will fill in the bulk of the lineup. Returning upperclassmen include Christian Skrepenak, Tyler Tyson and Henry Rodriguez. One of the school's top athletes, Mykel Dempsey, has also joined the roster.




Hanover Area












2011 WVC Record/Finish: 10-4, third place; Lost in D2 semifinals



State classification: 2A



Coach: Mike Zapotoski



Home field: High school, Sans Souci Parkway, Hanover Twp.



Outlook: Despite the graduation of five regulars from last season's semifinalist team, the Hawkeyes figure to be right back in contention in the division and the district. A pair of juniors who played prominent roles in 2011 – Zach Kollar at the plate and Mickey Ferrence on the mound – will again be counted on in 2012. Kollar, sophomore Mike Sulcoski and senior Steve Zuranski are among the group looking to replace players like Cory Dickson, Kurt Pericci and Mike View. Pat Cook, who was strong as a reliever last year, also returns.



Lake-Lehman



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 14-1, first place; Won D2 championship, Lost in PIAA first round



State classification: 2A



Coach: Mark LeValley



Home field: High school, Old Route 115, Lehman



Outlook: The Black Knights broke through in 2011 to capture their first district crown under Mark LeValley and qualified for states. Much of the prolific group that fueled that run – Justin Cornell, Josh Everett, Bryan Mathers and Zack Yursha, to name a few – have departed, leaving a handful of returning starters for 2012. Seniors Cole and Curt Barbacci join Tyler McGovern and Troy Shurites as captains with plenty of experience at the plate. McGovern will take over as the team's No. 1 starter after winning the district title game a season ago. Lehman will once again compete for a division and district title.



Meyers



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 13-2, second place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: 2A



Coach: Matt Skrepenak



Home field: Gibby Field, Gordon Avenue, Wilkes-Barre



Outlook: A few big names have graduated – all-star caliber players like John Nargoski and Victor Garcia – but the bulk of last season's successful roster is back in 2012 for another run at a division crown and a shot at a second district title in three years. Chris DeMarco, Corey Dubil, Dakota Owen, Robert Reilly, C.J. Szafran and John Zionce were all regulars in the lineup a year ago. Dubil emerged as a top pitcher as a junior and is back along with Tony Morrash as seniors with plenty of innings logged.



MMI Prep



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 5-9, fifth place; Lost in D2 semifinals



State classification: A



Coach: Emmett Thomas



Home field: Cedar Street/Luzerne Street, Freeland



Outlook: Plenty of progress for a still-growing program came in 2011, as the Preppers topped their previous wins mark and won in the district playoffs before falling in the semifinals. This season starts with a new field as the team moves away from the Drifton complex up to a complex closer to the high school in Freeland. A group of foundation-laying players like Dan Yencha and Fran Swankoski have graduated. Returning contributors include Aaron Kollar and Charlie Karchner.



Northwest



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 6-8, fourth place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: 2A



Coach: Lou DiPasquale



Home field: High school, Thorne Hill Road, Shickshinny



Outlook: Returning much of the roster from 2011, the Rangers are looking to make a surge to join the three programs – Hanover Area, Lake-Lehman and Meyers – that have topped the division in recent years. Northwest went 0-6 against those squads a year ago and the next step is to challenge in those contests. Leading that effort will be players like Skyler DiPasquale, Matt Korea, Devon Mazonkey and Kyle Stempien. Gone is Ryan Kondrosky, a mainstay in the lineup for a full four years.



Wyoming Seminary



2011 WVC Record/Finish: 4-10, sixth place; Lost in D2 quarterfinals



State classification: A



Coach: Brian Kaschak



Home field: Nesbitt Field, Pierce Street/Rutter Avenue, Kingston



Outlook: The heart of the order returns for the Blue Knights, as Bobby Polachek and Craig Skudalski are back. Polachek led Seminary in batting average and RBI in 2011, and was one of the top hitters in Division II. Polachek and Skudalski also led the pitching staff, starting 11 of 14 WVC games in the regular season. Senior Matt Seyer, a regular in last year's lineup, also returns. Departing contributors include Max Wiles, Spencer Youngman and Roman Rubando.




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