CLEARFIELD — The outlook is very promising for the Clearfield American Legion John Lewis Shade Post 6 baseball team with 13 players back from last year when the Chiefs finished 11-9 after reaching the winner’s bracket final before bowing out of the Pennsylvania Region 7 Tournament.
Ten of the returnees appeared in 15 or more games for manager Sid Lansberry’s 21st summer squad, one of four that, at the behest of Pennsylvania American Legion Baseball officials, revived the Jefferson County League, which had disbanded in 2012.
At 8-5, The Chiefs claimed second place behind champion Brookville, which was bolstered by players from Punxsutawney.
Despite hopes for a larger league with Brookville and Punxsutawney going their separate ways and the possible addition of Clarion, the JCL will look the same with Curwensville and DuBois the other entries.
Each team is booked for a 12-game slate.
The addition of two tournaments will give the Chiefs a challenging schedule of at least 21 games in four weeks prior to the JCL Playoffs, beginning with their opener against Punxsutawney/Brookville on the Clearfield Area High School varsity field Monday at 6 p.m.
They’ll be traveling to Elkins, W.Va., Thursday for the 30-team Hillbilly Hardball Classic with two games that day and Friday and one game Saturday. The top teams advanced to Sunday.
Their other trip will be to the 16-team Frederick, Md., Wood Bat Tournament June 29 through July 2.
With so many games in such a short period, pressure will be on a pitching corps that features high school aces Jake Sorbera and Eli Glass of Clearfield and left-hander Bryce Timko of Curwensville.
Sorbera was 2-1 with a 3.18 earned run average in five starts and Timko was 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in eight appearances last year. Two-year stats show Sorbera 5-3 with a 3.12 ERA for 10 outings and Timko 3-5 with a 3.82 ERA for 16 appearances.
Glass was a winner in his lone decision and had a 1.08 ERA in four appearances.
Reese Wilson is the only other hurler with American Legion experience, 0-1 with a 2.83 ERA in three games last year and 0-2 with a 4.74 ERA in four games in 2015.
Sharing in the mound work will be southpaws Cade Walker and Hunter Dixon, who saw late-season action for the Clearfield Area High School team, and Karson Rumsky, who toiled for the Bison jayvees.
Third baseman Harrison Peacock and second baseman Hayden Williams also will be available for spot duty.
Returning from playing college ball this spring are the Morgan twins Thayne (Penn State DuBois) and Zane (Juniata), who are two of the five veterans with three years of experience.
The others are left fielder Sorbera, center fielder Wilson and first baseman Seth Bumbarger.
Bumbarger led the Chiefs at the plate last year in hits (27), average (.435) and runs batted in (15). He tied Wilson (.302, 10 RBIs) in runs with 17.
Close behind was Allan Myers at .432 on 19 hits with nine RBIs. He can be utilized behind the plate, in the outfield and as the designated hitter.
Glass, who will be in the outfield when not on the mound, hit an even .400 on 16 hits with nine RBIs.
Nate Barr (.294) and newcomer Matt Bailor will handle the catching duties.
Timko and Dixon will back up Bumbarger at first base.
Zane Morgan, Rumsky and Nick Domico are the other infielders, while Thayne Morgan, Walker, Ty Bender (.275, 10 RBIs) and Alec Graham (.333) joining Sorbera (.250, 12 RBIs), Wilson (.302, 10 RBIs), Glass and Myers in the outfield.
Ed Yeager and Andy Sorbera return as assistant coaches, and Joe Rumsky also has joined the staff.
Matt Bailor, c; Nate Barr, c; Ty Bender, of; Seth Bumbarger, 1b; Nick Domico, 3b; Hunter Dixon, p, of; Eli Glass, p-of; Alec Graham, of; Thayne Morgan, of; Zane Morgan, if; Allan Myers, c, of, dh; Harrison Peacock, 3b; Karson Rumsky, p, if; Jake Sorbera, p-of; Bryce Timko, p-1b; Cade Walker, p, of; Hayden Williams, 2b; Reese Wilson, cf.
The schedule, with JCL for Jefferson County League game and 6 p.m. starts unless noted:
11 – PUNXSUTAWNEY/BROOKVILLE (JCL); 13 – at Curwensville (JCL); 14-17 Hillbilly Hardball Classic at Elkins, W.Va.; 18 – DUBOIS (JCL); 20 – Mifflin County; 21 – at Punxsutawney-Brookville (JCL) (DH); 22 – CURWENSVILLE (JCL); 25 – DUBOIS (JCL); 27 – PUNXSUTAWNEY/BROOKVILLE; June 29-July 2 – at Frederick, Md., Wood Bat Tournament.
5 – at Curwensville (JCL); 6 – CURWENSVILLE (JCL); 8 – at DuBois (JCL) (DH); 12-18 – Jefferson County League Playoffs.