CLEARFIELD — The Clearfield American Legion Post 6 baseball team will launch what it hopes will be a turnaround season with a trip to DuBois for its Central Penn League opener Saturday.
The Chiefs are attempting to rebound from a 6-18-1 finish in 2013, when they were highly impacted by the rule change that made wood bats mandatory for American Legion Baseball.
The Chiefs saw their batting average dip from .312 the previous year all the way to .196 and their power numbers fall from 45 extra base hits in 2012 to 16 doubles. No home runs. No triples.
They were shut out nine times and scored three or fewer runs in eight other games.
Clearfield did get a berth in the Central Penn League Playoffs when Bellefonte opted not to enter and earned one win in three games.
Philipsburg is the defending champion, rolling through the playoffs after tying State College for third place behind Mifflin County and DuBois during the regular season.
Clarence, State College, Beech Creek and Altoona are the other CPL teams.
Whether they qualify for the CPL tourney or not, the Chiefs are guaranteed a berth in the Region 7 Legion Tournament July 19-23 because they will be the host team.
Longtime Clearfield Area High School coach Sid Lansberry embarks on his 18th season as Chiefs skipper with a nucleus of eight players who appeared in at least 18 games last summer.
They are outfielder Curtis Collins (.219 average in 2013), middle infielder Spencer Herrington (.205), third baseman/outfielder Josh Kennedy (.167), third baseman/shortstop Cole Kephart (.211 with team-high 10 runs batted in), pitcher/second baseman Brandon Orsich (.263), catcher/outfielder Josh Sorbera (.228), pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Thomas Summers (.283 with team-high 17 hits) and outfielder Zach Timchak (.200).
Summers, 1-3 with a 3.88 earned run average in 10 appearances, and Orsich, 1-2 with a 4.62 ERA in four appearances, combined for eight starts and four complete games last year.
Another probable starter will be Jon Janocko, who returns to the staff after playing on a travel team in 2013.
Occasional starts and relief chores will be shared by Herrington, Kennedy, Kephart, first baseman Logan Lykens, shortstop Will Myers and outfielder Sawyer Rowles, according to Lansberry.
So far, the Chiefs are scheduled for 20 games in the regular season, playing the other eight CPL teams home-and-home to go along with a pair of doubleheaders in the annual Bellefonte Bandits Tournament in late June.
Lansberry is seeking additional non-league games.
The 2014 Clearfield Legion roster:
Ty Bender, c-of-3b; Curtis Collins, of; Justin Fedder, 2b-of; Tommy Hazel, if; Spencer Herrington, ss-2b-p; Jon Janocko, p-1b; Josh Kennedy, of-3b-p; Cole Kephart 3b-ss-p; Logan Lykens, 1b-p; Will Myers ss-p; Brandon Orsich, p-2b; Logan Puit, of-cf; Sawyer Rowles, of-p; Erik Sellers, 2b-1b; Jake Sorbera if; Josh Sorbera, c-of; Thomas Summers, 1b-p-of; Zach Timchak, of.
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The schedule, with home games in capitals, (CPL) indicating Central Penn League game and all games at 6 p.m. unless noted:
31 – at DuBois (CPL), 5 p.m.
1 – CLARENCE (CPL), postponed; 4- BEECH CREEK (CPL); 5 – at Clarence (CPL); 9 – at Philipsburg (CPL); 11 – MIFFLIN COUNTY (CPL); 12 – ALTOONA (CPL); 14 – at Bellefonte (CPL), 5 p.m.; 15 – STATE COLLEGE (CPL), 5 p.m.; 19- DUBOIS (CPL); 23 – at Beech Creek (CPL); 24 – PHILIPSBURG (CPL); 26 – at Mifflin County (CPL); 27-28 at Bellefonte Bandits Tournament.
1 – at Altoona (CPL); 3- BELLEFONTE (CPL); 7 – at State College (CPL); 11-15 – Central Penn League Playoffs; 19-23 – Region 7 Tournament at Clearfield