Hello everyone! My name is Jim Chester, head baseball coach at Penn State Greater Allegheny. I am very excited for the opportunity to be a blogger for College Baseball Lineup.
The 2012 season is right around the corner, and practice is in full swing in McKeesport, PA. Our pitchers threw 25 pitch bullpens, while our hitters have been getting a lot of swings in! Our young men did a great job last week with some early morning conditioning!
Check below for our 2012 Season Preview – courtesy of Bryan Rhodes
2012 Baseball Preview
McKeesport, Pa- After a record-breaking 2011 season, the Penn State Greater Allegheny Baseball team enters the 2012 season looking to build on its championship season. A 30-13-1 record, highlighted by going a stellar 18-1 in the PSUAC, produced GA’s first PSUAC Tournament Championship, and second straight PSUAC League Championship. The team also qualified for their fourth straight USCAA Small-College World Series appearance, finishing an all-time best, 3rd. As a team, they set new GA records in both Triples (15) and Home Runs (17) on offense, as well as strikeouts (337) in pitching. They also set the mark for most consecutive wins both in conference and overall, at 10 straight. Head Coach Jim Chester would be named the PSUAC Coach of the Year, and would also take home the 2011 Chuck Tanner Collegiate Manager of the Year award.
Starting in the outfield, GA returns 2 of last year’s trio, including reigning PSUAC Player of the Year, Sophomore Zak Schmidt
(Moon). Junior Mike Visloski
(West Allegheny) is the other key returnee, hoping to regain his 2010 form, where he .595 as a Freshman. Several other players will vie for the open left field position, including returning Sophomores Tyler Kugler (Serra Catholic) and Doug Walter
(Central Catholic). Three Freshmen- Aaron Maze
(Elizabethtown), Zach Zeroski
(West Allegheny) , and Cole Quattrone
(Elizabeth Forward) – will look to compete with Kugler and Walter for that spot. “I am very excited to watch this group develop and grow, as well seeing the intense competition for the left field spot”, comments Head Coach Jim Chester.
On the infield, GA will look to fill holes at the third base and shortstop positions. Senior Ted Fricke (Carrick) anchors the infield and line-up, returning for his final season as the second baseman for the Lions. Fricke was named to the USCAA All-American Honorable Mention Team and 1st Team PSUAC All-Conference Team, last season. Power-hitting first baseman Adam Wehr (Northwestern) returns to sure-up the right side of the GA infield. Wehr was named 2nd Team PSUAC All-Conference in 2011. Returning Sophomore Sam Weightman (Penn Trafford) will look to back-up at first base, and possibly solidify the DH role. Sophomore Kevin Quinn (West Mifflin) will back-up at second base, and will man the position while Fricke is pitching. Junior Jason Paris (Chartiers Houston) returns from injury in 2011, hoping to build on strong 2010 numbers, where he hit .372 with 15 Doubles, 1 Triple, and 3 Home Runs. Paris will look to lock down the third base job, while competing with three incoming Freshmen – Tyler Thellman (Blackhawk), Aaron McGee (Penn Trafford), and Oliver Girman (Serra Catholic) – to fill in the remaining spots in the infield. “Our infield is as, if not more, talented than any in my tenure. I look for this group to make all the routine plays and to put up big offensive numbers.”
Behind the plate, returnee Sophomore Bill Hodgetts
(West Mifflin) will compete with Junior Josh Kubisz
(Goose Creek), and first-year players, Junior Mike Pryor
(CCAC-Boyce) and Freshman Clay Groff
(Allderdice), for playing time behind the dish. Kubisz returns after posting a .283 batting average in 2010, where he drove in 27 Runs and hit 2 Home Runs. “This is the deepest and most talented group our program has seen. Competition will emerge great play from behind the plate.”
Pitching and pitching depth both were strong points for the 2011 GA squad, and the 2012 season sets up to continue that trend. 2011 1st Team PSUAC All-Conference performer, Senior Jonathan Lutz (West Mifflin), is the ace of the staff. Lutz posted a 5-2 record in 2011, tossing 55 innings and striking out 54 batters. Ted Fricke will also see time on the hill, where last season he won a team-leading 8 games. Fricke threw 48 innings, striking out 61 hitters in that span. Soft-tossing lefty, Sophomore Tim Connelly (Woodland Hills), returns to round out the top half of the staff, after firing a no-hitter in last year’s USCAA World Series against Robert Morris-Springfield. Connelly went 5-3 in 2011, striking out 43 batters in 43 innings. Adam Wehr will also see some innings, with returning Sophomore Brian Balagurchik (Notre Dame Academy), Mike Pryor, and Freshmen Eddie Emes (New Brighton), Aaron McGee, and Oliver Girman looking to add strong depth to the GA pitching staff. “We traditionally have had one of the best staffs in the conference, and this group will continue to carry on the tradition.”
GA will play a strenuous 40 game schedule, featuring four teams that participated in the 2011 USCAA Small-College World Series – Apprentice (VA), Briarcliff (NY), Rochester (MI), and Southern Virginia (VA) – with the season beginning March 4th in Vero Beach, Florida. Perennial USCAA power Southern Virginia visits GA in mid-Match, followed by a match-up with NAIA competitor, SUNY-Canton (NY). GA then visits nationally ranked Point Park, before getting into its PSUAC schedule. Sandwiched amongst the conference slate, GA hosts former USCAA World Series participants Clark State (OH) and Cincinnati-Clermont (OH). “We return a strong core from our 2011 championship team, but championships are not won in January. I strongly believe that if this group continues to work hard and can develop the right chemistry, then we can achieve the same 2011 success, and more.”