HYDE – While the 2010 Clearfield Area High School baseball team won’t be the most inexperienced group coach Sid Lansberry has ever had during the long tenure at his alma mater, it is one in a rebuilding mode with an unsettled depth chart.
Graduation claimed seven starters from last year’s 11-9 team that unexplainably wasn’t rewarded with a share of the first-year District 9 Northern Allegany League Big School Division title despite tying DuBois and Punxsutawney for first place at 7-3. DuBois was declared the champion even though the three teams were 1-1 against each other.
Seven lettermen return, including three regulars and two pitchers with four wins in a combined eight appearances.
However, Lansberry is reluctant to set any goals for the Bisons other than having them strive to play competitively.
“We’re playing a very challenging schedule with an inexperienced team,” he said. “We have to hope we play good defense and the young pitchers improve a lot as the season goes along, because we’re gonna have to scratch for runs, to be honest.
“I don’t see a lot of power, so we’ll have to play for one run. Bunt, run some, hit-and-run, things like that. We can’t sit back and wait for the big fly.”
With that in mind, Lansberry plans to start his best fielders early on, fully expecting to pencil in several different lineups as the season progresses.
“Gradually, you have to put your nine best hitters out there, but I think it’s going to be well into the season before we have a set lineup,” he proclaimed.
All of the returnees figure prominently in the mix.
Catcher Matt Lonjin, middle infielder Derek Danver and right fielder Justin Hoffman are returning regulars with two letters.
Designated hitter Isaac Butler, also a two-year letterman, catcher-first baseman Andrew Redden, pitcher-third baseman Trevor Flanagan and pitcher-outfielder Chad Zurat are the other returnees.
The underclassmen are juniors Danver, Redden and Flanagan.
Hoffman’s .333 average on 22 hits was fifth-best last spring and tops the Bison veterans who played in most games. He drove in 15 runs.
Butler was hitting .400 with eight hits and seven RBIs when a shoulder injury short-circuited his season after eight games.
Danver hit .274 with 10 RBIs while Lonjin hit .267 with 11 RBIs.
Redden, Flanagan and Zurat, combined, had only 10 official at-bats.
Lonjin will handle the Bison hurlers again, with Redden and junior Troy Danver very capable back-ups.
Redden showed during summer ball that he can provide some pop, so he also is working at first base, where he and Flanagan, when not fulfilling his role as No. 1 starter, are the front-runners.
Danver, who’s been shifted from third base, and junior Jarrett Fulmer will form the double play combo in the middle infield, but they may be interchangeable at second and short.
“We’re switching them back and forth trying to get the best combination there,” said Lansberry, who carries a 519-332-3 record into his 39th season.
Tyler Jacobson has the edge at third base, with senior Luke Peterson or Flanagan possibilities when the junior goes to the mound as the No. 3 starter or long reliever.
Peterson is likely to see action at second base, too.
“We need an extra infielder, and Luke’s pretty good defensively,” Lansberry said.
Hoffman in right should be the constant in the outfield. His back-up is junior Drew Brown.
Zurat, who is projected as the No. 2 starter, is running ahead of juniors Shane Harper and Justyn Knepp in center.
Left field is wide open, with seniors Garrett Samsel and Wil Beauseigneur in contention for the starting job along with Knepp, Lonjin and Redden.
Either Butler or Flanagan will be the DH.
Flanagan, who picked up the slack last year when No. 1 starter Michael Moyer went down with a knee injury in mid-season, and Zurat are the only pitchers with varsity experience.
Flanagan registered three big wins during Clearfield’s second-half turnaround from a 2-5 start, allowing 17 hits and 10 earned runs while striking out 18 and walking nine in 19-2/3 innings. His ERA was 3.56.
Zurat logged just eight innings, striking out 11 and walking five while surrendering 15 hits and nine earned runs. His only decision was a key victory in relief against Punxsy that kept alive Clearfield’s six-game win streak.
In addition to Jacobson, the all right-handed staff includes sophomores Derrick Snyder and Ronny Ogden and freshman Kurtis Krise.
All except Zurat, who played basketball, worked with pitching coach Bear Stewart all winter.
“They were dedicated, so, hopefully, that’s gonna pay off,” Lansberry said. “The young pitchers are gonna have to be thrown into the fire, especially early on.”
He’s not looking for many complete games from his starters because of pitch counts and the quality of hitting they’ll be facing.
“I’m thinking we’re going to be using four or five pitchers in some games,” he said.
The Bisons will begin their annual spring trip to Virginia Beach, Va., with practices and scrimmages Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for their opener Friday against Norfolk Collegiate High School.
“Whether we win or lose down there, it’s evaluating,” Lansberry said. “Practices will be just as important as the scrimmages and the game.
Clearfield’s home opener will be March 30 against defending Central Penn League champion State College.
Because of moving to the Mountain Athletic Conference next year, Clearfield will be making its farewell tour around the always-tough CPL as well as the D9 League in addition to making its third and final appearance in the Dean Patterson Curve Classic in Altoona.
Brian Barr and Chris Peacock also are varsity assistant coaches.
Donnie Shimmel and Brandon Billotte coach the junior varsity team.
Volunteer Ed Yeager helps on both levels.
Last year’s seniors were Moyer, pitcher-first baseman Corey Bookhamer, pitcher-shortstop Parker Herrington, second baseman Jarrin Campman, left fielder Tanner St. Clair, pitcher-center fielder Aaron Sayers and designated hitter Kyle Timchak.
Moyer was 2-4 in six starts with a 4.69 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 34-1/3 innings before his injury, Bookhamer stepped into the No. 1 role and finished 3-1 with a 4.27 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 41 innings, and Herrington became an outstanding closer with a 2-1 record, two saves, a 0.84 ERA and 23 strikeouts in just 16-2/3 innings.
Bookhamer was the top hitter at .431 with 25 hits and 17 RBIs, followed closely by Campman at .412 with a team-high 28 hits and 18 RBIS and St. Clair at .407 with 24 hits and a team-high 21 RBIs. St. Clair led the Bisons in home runs with four and triples with two and tied Bookhamer in doubles with six.
Bookhamer also had three homers, while Campman, Timchak (.361) and Herrington had five extra base hits apiece as those four and St. Clair accounted for 36 of Clearfield’s 45 extra base blows.
Moyer was recruited by Penn State-Behrend and Bookhamer walked on to the Duquesne team, while Campman saw action at wide receiver for Lycoming and Herrington was the placekicker for the Air Force Academy junior varsity in football last fall.
The roster, with letterwinners denoted by (*):
Seniors – Wil Beauseigneur, c, of; Isaac Butler (*), 1b, dh; Justin Hoffman (*), of; Matt Lonjin (*), c; Luke Peterson, 2b, 3b; Garrett Samsel, of; Chad Zurat (*), p, of.
Juniors – Drew Brown, of; Derek Danver (*), ss, 2b; Troy Danver, c, of; Trevor Flanagan (*), p, 1b; Jarrett Fulmer, 2b, ss; Tyler Jacobson, p, 3b; Shane Harper, of; Justyn Knepp, of, c; Steve Miller, 1b; Andrew Redden (*), c, 1b; Maverick Vanderburgh, 2b.
Sophomores – Ronny Ogden, p; Derrick Snyder, p.
Freshman – Kurtis Krise, p.
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The schedule, with home games in capitals, (D9L) for District 9 League and (CPL) for Central Penn League:
(All games at 4:30 p.m. unless noted)
26 – at Norfolk (Va.) Collegiate High School, 4 p.m.; 30 – STATE COLLEGE (CPL).
8 – at Bradford (D9L), 4:15 p.m.; 9 – ALTOONA (CPL); 12 – DUBOIS (D9L and CPL); 14 – PUNXSUTAWNEY (D9L and CPL); 16 – TBA in Dean Patterson Curve Classic at Altoona, 12:30 p.m.; 17 – TBA in Dean Patterson Curve Classic; 19 – WILLIAMSPORT (CPL); 21 – at St. Marys (D9L and CPL), 4:15 p.m.; 26 – WEST BRANCH; 28 – at Brookville (D9L), 4:15 p.m.
3 – at DuBois (D9L); 5 – BRADFORD (D9L); 10 – at Punxsutawney (D9L), 4:15 p.m.; 12 – ST. MARYS (D9L); 14 – HUNTINGDON, 4 p.m.; 19 – BROOKVILLE (D9L); 21 – at Altoona.