April 5, 2016

CCL baseball preview: Defending champion McGraw has new look

Staff Writer

The three-time Central Counties League champion McGraw Central baseball team will have a new-look roster this season, while DeRuyter and Cincinnatus will have a good number of veterans back.
The Red Lions in Cincy will be under new coach Dennis Eaton, who replaces Bob Enright, while Abe Johnson returns at McGraw and Bill Schellinger is back at DeRuyter.
League play opened up last week, though some early April snow will postpone contests early this week before the CCL resumes.
Coach: Abe Johnson
The Eagles lost 10 of the 18 players on last year’s team, which went 9-3 in league play (11-7 overall) to share first place in the league with Stockbridge Valley, to graduation. That list includes a pair of all-league first-teamers in catcher Collin Pickert, the CCL Player of the Year, and third baseman/pitcher Matt Morgan.
Pickert hit .449 with six doubles, one home run, 22 RBIs and 17 runs scored while Morgan hit .458 with four doubles, 15 RBIs and 16 runs. Both are playing at Tompkins Cortland CC this season.
Also gone are a pair of all-league honorable mentions, utility player Andrew Niver (.277 with three doubles, eight runs and 11 RBIs) and infielder David Harvey (.345 with four doubles, seven runs and 11 RBIs).
The returnees are headed up by a pair of juniors who were all-league second-teamers in 2015. Centerfielder/pitcher Jordan Cowen hit .404 with three doubles, one triple, one home run, 13 RBIs and 21 runs and pitcher/infielder Devon Tuttle went 5-1 on the mound with 31 strikeouts in 40 2-3 innings and an ERA of 1.89.
Also back are seniors Noah Brown (third baseman/first baseman), Connor Fitzgerald (infielder/pitcher) and Ryan Sherwood (third baseman/.outfielder), juniors Devon Livermore (catcher/outfielder/pitcher) and Spencer Welsh (first baseman) and freshman shortstop/pitcher Brendan May.
Cowen and Fitzgerald are the captains.
This year’s rookies are juniors Dylan Bridger (third baseman/pitcher), Dan Hammond (outfielder), Max Lickona (outfielder) and Brett Potter (outfielder/infielder), sophomore outfielder/infielder River Milsapp and freshmen Tyler Card (outfielder/infielder), Chris Pickert (catcher, Collin’s brother) and Jaycob White (outfielder/first baseman/pitcher).
“We have a very young team this year, with only three seniors, but the majority of players have a lot of baseball experience,”said Johnson, who is in his 14th year as the Eagles’ head coach and has compiled a record of 115-88. “Whether in the summer or offseason workouts, the boys are ready to get going. I’m hoping that some players who didn’t get that much playing time last season are ready to jump in and contribute right away this year.
“As always, it will come down to pitching. If our pitchers continue to improve and throw the ball the way they are capable of, I think that will keep us in games.”
In looking at the league race, Johnson said that “Fortunately, we have had some success in the CCL the past few years. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. Teams are going to be geared up to play us and we need to be prepared for the challenge. Stockbridge Valley, Brookfield and Madison will be strong again. They have excellent coaching staffs and are traditionally solid. DeRuyter, Otselic Valley and Cincinnatus are sure to improve also.
“I feel very confident that this team can be very successful. We have a very competitive schedule, including Cortland’s Partigianoni Tournament and games against Marathon, Tully and Greene, and I believe that will help us achieve our league goals and beyond.”
Coach: Bill Schellinger
Among the six returnees from last year’s Rockets squad, which posted a 5-7 record in league play and finished 6-10 overall after a first-round sectional loss to McGraw, are senior infielder/pitcher Nick Wiesing, who earned second-team all-league honors, and a pair of seniors who were honorable mentions in infielder Josh Phelps and outfielder/pitcher Dylan Ryan. The trio will serve as the team’s tri-captains this season.
They are joined on the list of veterans by fellow seniors Max Furlough (outfielder/pitcher) and William Judson (outfielder/pitcher), junior Austin Wood (outfielder/infielder/catcher) and sophomore catcher Hunter Way.
The varsity newcomers are sophomores Zach Best (pitcher/infielder/outfielder), Hayden Bush (outfielder/infielder/pitcher) and Ryan Wood (infielder, Austin’s brother) and freshman pitcher/infielder Zach Marshall.
Outfielder/infielder Shawn Glisson, a first-team all-leaguer who hit .451 with one double, 13 RBIs, 21 runs and 24 stolen bases, was lost to graduation, as were second-teamer Chris Thomas, a pitcher-infielder, and honorable mentions Zach Way (Hunter’s brother) and David Zinn, who are both infielder-pitchers.
“The keys for us this season will be how quickly pitching comes along, staying healthy and cutting down errors,” said Schellinger, now in his fourth year as DeRuyter’s coach. “We want to represent DeRuyter in the best way, not only qualify for sectionals but advance to our potential, improve communications within and outside the team and generally become more proficient at the game of baseball.”
Coach: Dennis Eaton
Eaton inherits a Red Lions squad that has just 10 players, five of whom return from last year, when Cincy finished sixth in the league at 3-9 and wound up 3-11 overall. Heading up the list are 2015 second-team all-leaguer Connor Stafford, a sophomore shortstop/pitcher, and two seniors who were honorable mentions last season in first baseman/pitcher Tyler Enright and catcher/pitcher Dylan Barber. Also returning for another season are senior centerfielder Dawson Steacy (outfielder) and sophomore outfielder Jordan Roberts.
New to the varsity level are juniors Austin Gardner (shortstop/pitcher) and Mitchell Eichorst (outfielder) and sophomores Shawn Johnson (outfielder), Isaiah Brewer (second baseman) and Jaime Andres-Lopez (third baseman).
Among those lost to graduation are first baseman/pitcher Tanner Raymond, pitcher/infielder/outfielder Josh Enders, pitcher/infielder/outfielder Chris Enright (Tyler’s cousin) and first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Devon Bellefleur.
“We’re very young for a varsity team,” Eaton said. “Our seniors are strong in fielding and hitting, but our hitting is going to be weak overall. Gardner and Stafford will do most of the pitching.”

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