Hamburg native Chris Hoak is back at shortstop for Hilbert. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)
Joining seven upperclassmen on this yearís Hilbert College baseball team will be an influx of 16 first-year players, whom second-year head coach Jim Pernick looks to get the most out of to challenge for an AMCC playoff spot in May.Seniors Chris Hoak and Garrett Pauly, and juniors John Babocsi and Joe Pernick will provide leadership as the teamís captains.
Hoak, a Hamburg native, who was a 2012 AMCC First Team selection at shortstop and last yearís team leader with a .422 batting average, is one of the teamís top returning players. As a fifth-year senior at Hilbert and without winter basketball season to train for ó his eligibility in that sport was up after the 2011-12 season, Hoak spent the summer and fall semester working on strength training and came into camp in the best baseball shape of his career and focused on helping the team win games, according to his coach. A year ago, he also led the Hawks with nine doubles, four triples during a 43-hit season and stole four bases. Heíll also pitch this year.
Babocsi, a catcher, has become a defensive leader and continues to be an offensive threat as a good contact hitter. He finished the year with 25 hits and 26 runs. Pauly finished strong last spring and was second with 53.1 innings pitched. Joe Pernick, an outfielder who will move to center field, is expected to be one of the Hawksí top hitters after knocking in 15 RBI with a .347 average in 2012.
Rounding out the veterans are Ryan Ilardi, Sean McGrath, and Frank Casey. Ilardi played left field in 2012 but he can also cover second base. He brings good speed (16 runs scored) and can hit to contact. McGrath can catch and play both corners in the infield, as well as carrying a good bat. He will also see some time as a DH. Casey should help the team on the mound this year and is taking some reps in the outfield to help booster the Hawksí defense when needed.
Senior Ryan Tofil, a three-sport athlete at Hilbert, joins the team this year. He can it for power and should bolster the teamís offense. Freshman looking break into the starting lineup are Paul Wujek, a St. Francis High School graduate, PJ Mistretta, Cody Ashford, Mark Anderson, Tyler Shaw and Tom Irish. All five are versatile with good speed and may play big roles right away. Tyler Sulski will see some time as a catcher.
An impressive piece to this yearís recruiting class is the Canadian imported pitching staff, which will include 6-foot-7 Tyler Roth of Ottawa, Andrew Cartaginese of Toronto and the Parachoniak brothers, Logan and Colby of Saskatchewan. Logan has good movement on his pitches and Colby brings a nice fastball. Rounding out the pitching staff are Korey Schwab and Matt Goraj, who both throw strikes. Goraj has some solid off-speed stuff and will fit as a set-up man. Lefties Justin Hulbert and Tony Marra can start or be used for match-ups in the late innings.
The coaching staff returns Matt Bauman and Glowacki, Derek Speaker and newcomer Jimmy Pernick. The Hawks opened their season at the Florida Spring Coast Training Tournament this week. They return to Western New York for a full slate of Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference games where they will first host Greensburg on March 30.
Among the highlights for Hilbertís softball teamís spring trip to Myrtle Beach last week was capturing an 8-0 five-inning victory over Wentworth College on March 12. The Lady Hawks also beat Johnson State 11-6 on March 10 during a 2-6 spring trip last week. After hosting Houghton College on March 19, Hilbert next plays at home March 24 against Morrisville State, weather permitting.Sherman, Barry lead ECC offense over spring trip
In the final day of a spring break Florida trip, the Erie Community College baseball team scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to record a 7-5 win and a split of Fridayís (March 15) doubleheader against Waubonsee (Ill.) CC. In the nightcap, the Kats got back-to-back RBI doubles by Vinny Sherman of North Collins and Brian Barry of Derby in the seventh. Sherman finished with three hits, while Barry, a Lake Shore High graduate, added two. The day prior, ECC split its two games Thursday (March 14), rebounding with a 13-2 win over Ontario Prospects. Sherman recorded three hits against Ontario. The Kats, 6-6, will play at CCBC Catonsville March 22.Three local freshmen to play softball at Fredonia
The Fredonia State softball season starts March 21 with the team trip to Clermont, Fla. After finishing 16-16-1 in 2012, the Blue Devils have greater expectations this season. Nine players are returning in 2013 ó four starters and three senior pitchers. Among this yearís new recruits are outfielder/second baseman Kim Lotocki of Hamburg, a Frontier High School graduate, and twin sisters, first baseman Madeline Medina and second baseman Megan Medina, both Hamburg High School graduates. The Blue Devils are picked for eighth in the SUNYAC coachesí preseason poll, but the team is more talented than that, according to second-year head coach Nicole Loudin.