Archive for January, 2012
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.”
Things have been quite busy in MB Baseball land with 2 weeks of double days and the semester beginning this week. We have been preparing at a feverish pace and the first game is just over 1 week away. There are not words to describe the excitement that our boys, the coaches, and the university feel for this historic season to finally begin. We have had a long journey, and we have a long way to go, but we know the best days of the year are still ahead of us.
Double days went extremely well. We started off the first week by having a team meeting, taking our “mugshots,” and also participating in a photo shoot for our great sponsor, Russell Athletic. We quickly jumped into practice and were pleased to see the vast majority of our guys took the winter break seriously and kept themselves in shape and were ready to get after it. Practices and intrasquads went great, and we got through it with no major injuries or issues. During the first week we did our 2nd Annual MB Baseball Bowling Challenge, where the vertically challenged duo of Jason Merjano and Matt Urakami took home the title. We also joined forces with the MB Softball team to watch the 49ers/Saints playoff game at our local Round Table Pizza on Saturday after our intrasquads.
The second week of double days brought much of the same effort and focus that made us pleased with the first week. We went on the grind the first 3 days of the week and knocked out some more double days. To beat the weekend rain, we played 14 innings on Thursday and were very pleased with the progression of our pitchers and position players. On Thursday night we participated in our 2nd MB Baseball Otter Night. We took over the CSUMB Student Center for the night where the boys enjoyed the pool tables, ping pong tables, Wii, foosball, pool, and video games. Each player spoke in front of the team and confessed their commitment to the team and what we are trying to accomplish this season. It is an emotional night for our players and coaches, and signals are commitment to each other and serves as a sign we are ready to take on the challenges and lofty goals we have for this group of young men.
School started this week and we settled into our normal schedule. Practices have been crisp as usual and the coaching staff feels very confident that this team is ready to take on all comers. We still have a lot of work to do, but the boys are looking sharp and ready to start playing some outside competition. We will have two extended intrasquads this weekend as a final tuneup and then we will be ready to take on Westmont College on February 3rd and 4th. It seems like it has been a long road, but everyone knows we still have so far to go. This team wants to be playing well into late May and we have our game faces on and are ready for everything that comes our way.
Stay tuned for an update on MB Baseball and a preview of the 3 game series with Westmont.
A personal note: Today I reflect back on the fall of 1996 when I was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Penn State baseball. I had the privilege of being a part of a recruiting meeting with Coach Joe Paterno and baseball recruit Mike Restovich. Sitting in Coach Paterno’s Penn State football office was the most powerful 90 minutes of “We are … Penn State” that one could possibly experience.
IUP baseball has completed Phase I fall practice and Phase II skill instruction / lifting / conditioning. We enter the next phase of team practice in preparing for the 2012 NCAA Division II college baseball season.
The leadership of the 2012 team will come from senior captains Dylan Songer, Greg Stewart, Craig Hibell, and Cory Sawka. These four have been a part of a combined 564 games at IUP and contributed to the 2010 PSAC West championship and 2011 PSAC tournament runner-up finish.
We finished the 2011 fall semester with a 2.97 team GPA, including 14 players on the IUP Dean’s List above a 3.25 GPA.
Hello College Baseball Fans,
Did you miss me? I am refreshed and ready to break my blogging hiatus. I spent the last few months recharging my blogging batteries, focusing on baseball, school, and trying to find a job when I graduate–which is excitingly/terrifyingly in less than five months. I also enjoyed a much needed break from hearing people say, “Why don’t you go blog about it?” The humor was only there the first 127 times I heard that the last two seasons–then it got kind of old.
However, I had to return to blogging for my senior season, because this journey that has been four years in the making needs an end, and for the #BearClawNation, lets hope it’s a good one.
The last time I wrote we had just finished our roller coaster season, having 19 games cancelled thanks to Mother Nature, and finished one game out of the post season. From there I had a crazy summer, playing town ball in Minnesota and going to the Class A Amateur State tournament with the North Saint Paul Red Roosters, working as the coordinator of baseball information for USA Baseball, and just enjoying the beautiful weather. I did plenty of traveling, going to Cary, N.C. and Omaha, Neb. as part of my internship, I went home to Aurora, Colo. twice, and I visited Clemson, S.C. and Spokane, Wash. to spend time with friends. To say the least, I’ve done a lot of things since we talked last (or, I wrote and you guys read).
After an wonderful Christmas break back in Colorado, I have returned to the arctic temperatures of Saint Paul, Minn., it was -8 this morning with wind chills in the 20′s below zero. Luckily, we have the Concordia Dome at Sea Foam Stadium (or simply, the Foam Dome) to start our winter practice this year. We started Monday, and are already deep into this thing. Pitching, hitting, and team defense are in full swing for the Golden Bears as we prepare for a February 18 date with Missouri Southern State in the Metrodome.
Two major changes have happened for my baseball career since my last post. First, our team has changed. Not just the players, but the attitude that everyone has around the locker room, the weight room, and most importantly, the field. We are a team this year. We have bonded both on and off the field. We are the Bear Claw Nation. This is the best “team” I have ever been a part of. Not just in the sense of a band of brothers, which we have become, but also talent, passion, and desire. Everyone on this team wants it as bad as the guy standing next to him–it is awesome. The second change is a personal one. Did you notice the title of this post? Hi, I’m Rick Vaughn.
Yes, I did just call myself Charlie Sheen’s penal league fireballer in the movie Major League (1989). Okay, so you might have to take 15 mph off the fast ball, and I certainly don’t have that awful haircut, but we now share a similar story line. No, I didn’t go to prison. I’ll explain. Over the past couple of seasons my production on the mound has seen plenty of ups and downs, and mostly because of walks. Last season I led the team in strikeouts per nine innings and walks per nine innings–sounds like Rick Vaughn, right? Well, this winter break I met with an optometrist and apparently I need some minor vision correction–sounds like Rick Vaughn, right? My first bullpen with my new specs on was a success: 75% strikes. Now, I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but I am definitely believing that I’m on to something. I am excited to see my progress and all the hard work I’ve put in this off season combined with a little better eye sight. Oh, and I get fitted for contacts on Monday, so I won’t be rocking rec specs on the diamond this spring.
My vision is clearer, my focus is sharper, and my team is the best guys I have ever been around. I can’t wait to get the 2012 college baseball season, my senior season, started, because great things are coming from the hard work that the Golden Bears have put in.
–Go Golden Bears–
After what seemed an endless winter break, we are finally ready to take the field to begin a historic season for MB Baseball. The boys are back in town and we start in the weight room tomorrow at 8:45am. The next two weeks of double days will be a test of our conditioning and focus, but we welcome those daily challenges here at MB Baseball. We are excited about the tasks before us and trust me when I say, this team is ready to show the country exactly how we prepare to compete.
From all indications, our team has reported in phenomenal shape. They used the winter break to not only relax and spend some time with their family, but to prepare their bodies for the next five months. It will be a grind to get to the finish line, but it’s those that prepare and embrace the grind that will be the victor at the end.
Along with the two practices a day, we also have a lot of team building activities planned. This Wednesday will be the second annual MB Baseball bowling challenge. We will take the Monterey Bowling Lanes by storm and the boys will pair up to see which team is the best bowlers. On Saturday after our intrasquad, we will join the MB Softball team at Round Table Pizza to watch the 49ers playoff game. Next week we may possibly have a beach bonfire early in the week, but we will definitely have our 2nd annual Otter Night on Thursday in our Student Center. This is a very special night for our team, where each player will confess their commitment for the team and we will map out of road to a championship.
This blog will get updated much more frequently now that we are back in full swing, and our first game on February 3rd is right around the corner. We look forward to everyone joining our journey.