CURWENSVILLE – Although the Curwensville Area High School baseball team returns nine letter winners, head coach Denny Johns labels his squad inexperienced for the most part.
Coming off of a 5-11 season in 2011 Johns spoke of the inexperience, “Even with nine lettermen back we are still going to be inexperienced, particularly on the mound. The maturing and success of our young pitching staff will have a huge impact on our 2012 results. Only a few starting positions have been settled upon at this point.”
The Golden Tide lost seven seniors from last year’s team through graduation – Shae Best, Shane Hoover, Garrett LaBorde, Shelby McGarry, Eric Little, Bob Adams and Alec Starr.
Hoover hit .347 with 15 RBI’s and LaBorde was 2-5 on the mound with a very respectable ERA of 2.46 for Curwensville last year, who must quickly find an offensive leader and a number one pitcher.
Curwensville, like all area spring outdoor teams, have had the luxury of a very mild spring allowing them to do most of their work outside for the past three weeks.
Johns talked about attitude and confidence, “The attitude has been great and the guys have been competing hard with one another every day in practice. We have several guys competing for time in the infield and a number of very capable outfielders vying for time.”
Johns continued, “There is talent in this group. Hopefully our pitching can settle in quickly and we can get off to a quick start with the bats and score a bunch of runs. Success will breed confidence and it’s important that this group gets out of the gates quickly and not get down on themselves.”
As always, pitching will be the key to success and the Tide return Boone McGary and Kyle Johns who each saw some work on the mound last season.
A sophomore, Johns is back with the most experience, having pitched 14 innings while posting a 1-1 record, while McGary, a senior, went 0-1 with eight innings in the books.
Coach Johns talked about the pitching, “The final starts for Boone (McGary) and Kyle (Johns) in 2011 were without a doubt their strongest appearances of the year and we hope they can build off of those quality starts.”
Helping out with the pitching chores will be juniors Jordan Russell and Curt Bloom along with three other sophomores seeing time in Brett Gardner, Ricky Magnuson and Tanner Elensky. Freshman Jake Stiles also will be called upon.
When not on the hill, McGary will find himself at first base and will be backed up by junior Jason Bloom and Todd Munchak, a senior.
Last year McGary hit .268 for the Golden Tide and also drove home 11 teammates.
Hunter McCracken, a junior, is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and has yet to be released for game competition so Gardner will get the nod at second base with Curt Bloom and Stiles slated to be back-ups.
Johns also had hopes of giving McCracken some big innings on the hill, “Hunter (McCracken) coming off of shoulder surgery is a huge hurdle to overcome as he would have been one of the workhorses on the mound this year.”
Elensky will start at the shortstop position with Johns providing relief when need be.
Last year Jesse Zorger, now a senior, hit .286 for the Tide and will once again find himself at the hot corner, third base, as Munchak and Stiles provide the back-up on occasion.
The outfield has a mix of players who will see action, which include seniors Alex Holland and Alex Holt; juniors Brad Coudriet and Russell, along with sophomores Alex Olson and Johns.
High expectations are always there as Johns explained, “Offensively, the guys that can develop consistency will find their way to the field. We struggled terribly with offensive consistency in 2011 and it showed up in our final record. We have some pretty decent team speed and hope to be aggressive on the base paths in order to create scoring opportunities for ourselves.”
Then Johns, in his third season at the helm, summed it all up by saying, “We want to keep it simple, every day we step on the field we want to be a little better than we were the previous day. If we do that, the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
The Golden Tide open the 2012 campaign on Tuesday when they host DuBois Central Catholic, with the first pitch slated for 4:15 pm.
SENIORS: Alex Holland, of; Alex Holt, of; * Boone McGary, p, if, c, Todd Munchak, if; * Jesse Zorger, if
JUNIORS: Curt Bloom, p, if; Jason Bloom, if; * Kyle Bloom, c; * Brad Coudriet, of; * Hunter McCracken p, if; * Jordan Russell p, of
SOPHOMORES: * Tanner Elensky, p, if; * Brett Gardner p, if; * Kyle Johns, p, if, of; Ricky Magnuson, p, if; Alex Olson, of, c
FRESHMAN: Jake Stiles, p
* Denotes letter winner
MARCH: 27 – DUBOIS CENTRAL CATHOLIC
APRIL: 2 – BROOKVILLE, 4 – RIDGWAY, 11 – at Kane, 13 – BROCKWAY, 16 – at Glendale, 4:30 pm, 17 – JOHNSONBURG, 19 – ELK COUNTY CATHOLIC, 23 – at DuBois Central Catholic, 25 – at Brockway, 27 – at West Branch, 4:30 pm
MAY: 1 – at Harmony, 4 pm, 3 – at Ridgway 4 pm, 4 – MOSHANNON VALLEY, 7 – KANE, 9 – at Johnsonburg, 10 – at Brookville, 15 – at Elk County Catholic
All games begin at 4:15 pm unless otherwise noted. Home games are in caps.