Thursday April 11, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Pitcher and shortstop Jared Keppel will be one of only three players with varsity experience back this season. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)
Paul Kellner admits the North Collins baseball program has been spoiled with some standout players and a lengthy successful stretch of teams.
Season-after-season, the Eagles withstood the graduation hits it took to continue churning out division winners and Section VI finalist teams.
But after making a fifth Class D championship game appearance after a 12-0 CCAA IV regular season, it would be difficult not to take a step back considering what’s been lost this time around. The Eagles graduated eight seniors from the 2012 team and will also take another hit with an additional three players not returning to the team due to job commitments.
“(Living up to past successes) seems like an immense challenge for us right now,” said 16th-year head coach Paul Kellner, who’s recorded a 184-100 mark over that time, including finishing 18-4 last season. “This is the largest deficit of returning players I have faced to date. Of course nothing is impossible but our success will largely depend upon the quick immersion and progress of underclassmen.”
Kellner is back to teaching basics as only three players return with varsity experience. Senior Jared Keppel is the only returning pitcher. He’ll also play shortstop and be a key hitter after a First Team All-CCAA IV season.
Also back are senior twin brothers Jordan and Jaden Keough. Jordan will help a revamped pitching staff and play in the infield, while Jaden competes for time behind the plate and in the outfield. Senior foreign exchange student Constantine Goestch will also play for the team.
Coming up from the junior varsity are juniors Conner Renaldo, Zane Lloyd, Jacob Fyock, David Fera and David Weber. Kellner will also bring up sophomores Kyle Loretto, Chris Pulinski, Austin Weber and Joey English and freshman Jacob Jasinski.
Loretto, Winter, Pulinski and Lloyd may also see time on the mound, while Jasinski and Fera compete for time at catcher after three-year starter Clayton Cerne graduated. Also lost is four-year varsity player Kyle Sherman and Trey Bley, both pitchers and infielders, who like Cerne, were All-Western New York honorable mentions last year.
“Offensively, we are looking to find a way to reach base and hopefully put some runners in scoring position for Jared Keppel,” Kellner noted. “We’ll look to scrap for every base we can get.”
The Eagles met up with Pine Valley in the Class D championship game for a fifth straight season. It was the third straight finals loss to Pine Valley.