CLEARFIELD — Eight returnees who were in the District 9 Class AAA runner-up Clearfield Area High School baseball team’s starting lineup at the end of the season and another with a year of college experience provide a solid nucleus for the 2016 Clearfield American Legion John Lewis Shade Post 6 Chiefs.
Back for Sid Lansberry’s 20th year as skipper are the top two pitchers in Brandon Orsich (6-3) and Will Myers (2-2) and the top four hitters in Myers (.355), Orsich (.296), Justin Fedder (.280) and Josh Sorbera (.262).
Ty Bender (.225), Thayne and Zane Morgan and Reese Wilson started or played in most of the games for the 2015 Chiefs, who won their last five Central Penn League games to claim fourth place and were 2-2 in the league’s playoffs for an 11-10 record.
Logan Lykens is back after missing most of last season because of an injury.
The Chiefs’ Tuesday opener against Beech Creek was called off because a majority of the Crickets were playing for Central Mountain in the District 6 Class AAAA championship game, so their CPL lidlifter will be at DuBois Thursday evening.
DuBois is returning to the fold after not fielding a team in 2015, but Altoona and Huntingdon have dropped their programs, leaving the CPL with eight teams.
Defending champion Beech Creek gets Lansberry’s vote as the preseason favorite.
“They’re loaded,” he said. “They’ve got everybody back.
“Mifflin County was second and went to the regionals, too. State College always is good and Bellefonte and Philipsburg will be better.
“It’s a really good league with a lot of good pitching.”
Two doubleheaders in the annual Bellefonte Bandits Wood Bat Tournament will interrupt the 14-game league schedule to give the Chiefs an 18-game slate that Lansberry would like to expand with more non-league opponents.
Keys for their success will be coming close to last year’s excellent 2.33 earned run average while making significant improvement on both a .212 batting average and the 22 extra base hits that were all doubles.
Orsich and Myers head a mound staff that will be bolstered by newcomers Jake Sorbera, who was 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA as the No. 2 starter for the Bison in the spring, and left-hander Bryce Timko, a starter for the Curwensville Area High School team.
Orsich pitched 59-1/3 innings in 10 outings for the 2015 Chiefs, completing all eight of his starts. He allowed only 12 earned runs for a glittering 1.42 ERA, and his strikeout-walk ratio was an incredible 52-3. He owns a 2.48 ERA for 138-1/3 innings in 26 outings over the last three seasons.
Myers had a 3.23 ERA for 26 innings in five starts last year.
Zane Morgan, Lykens and newcomers Wyatt Porter, Cade Walker and Harrison Peacock round out the pitching corps listed on the roster.
Depth at several positions will give Lansberry plenty of options when filling out lineups, especially when work, vacations and other activities impact the availability of some players.
Catching will be in good hands with returnee Josh Sorbera, Bison regular Zane Morgan, Ty Bender and Wyatt Porter. Sorbera saw action behind the plate as well as third base for the first-year Penn State DuBois team that won the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference championship and split four games at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series.
Around the infield, Lansberry can call on Lykens, Seth Bumbarger, Timko or Orsich at first base, Fedder or Porter at second, Thayne Morgan or Myers at shortstop and Myers or Sorbera at third base.
Wilson, Bender, Jake Sorbera, Jarrit Wagner, Timko and newcomers Alec Graham and Alex Coval will be the flychasers.
Lansberry’s assistant coaches are Ed Yeager and Andy Sorbera.
The 2016 Clearfield Legion roster:
Ty Bender, c-of; Seth Bumbarger, 1b; Alex Coval, of-p-c; Justin Fedder, 2b-of; Alec Graham, if; Logan Lykens, 1b-p; Thayne Morgan, if; Zane Morgan, c-if-p; Will Myers if-p; Brandon Orsich, p-1b; Harrison Peacock, if, p; Wyatt Porter, c-if-p; Jake Sorbera p-of; Josh Sorbera, c-3b; Bryce Timko, p-1b; Jarrit Wagner, of; Cade Walker, p-of; Reese Wilson, of-p.
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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 – BEECH CREEK (CPL), postponed.
2 – at DuBois (CPL); 6 – at Bellefonte (CPL); 8 – PHILIPSBURG (CPL); 10 – at Mifflin County (CPL); 14 – CLARENCE (CPL); 16 – at Beech Creek (CPL); 17 – DUBOIS (CPL); 22 – at Clarence (CPL); 24-25-26 at Bellefonte Bandits Wood Bat Tournament (Sites, opponents and times TBA); 27 – STATE COLLEGE (CPL); 28 – BELLEFONTE (CPL); 30 – at Philipsburg (CPL).
5 – MIFFLIN COUNTY (CPL); 7-13 – Central Penn League Playoffs; 16-20 – Region Seven Tournament.