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As weather warms up, Main Line baseball squads get into swing of things

Episcopal Academy shortstop Kyle Virbitsky throws one to first during a team practice. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

Episcopal Academy shortstop Kyle Virbitsky throws one to first during a team practice. (Digital First Media/Robert J. Gurecki)

The Main Line high school baseball squads are back into the swing of things as they start the 2016 season. Here’s a beginning-of-the-season look at the Main Line high school baseball squads this spring:

Barrack Hebrew Academy

Head coach: Justin Cooper, third year. (also was head coach at Doane Academy for seven years).
Last year’s record: 10-8 overall, 4-2 Tri-County League, 6-3 Penn Jersey League.
Key returnees: Senior shortstop/pitcher David Gordon, senior outfielder/pitcher Sam Falkowitz, junior outfielder/first baseman/pitcher Simon Gordon, senior third baseman Josh Coehn, senior catcher Aaron Bernstein.
Others to watch: Sophomore first baseman/pitcher Jared Shotel, sophomore pitcher/outfielder Jacob Felger, junior catcher/outfielder Andrew Axelrod, sophomore pitcher/second baseman Josh Beal.
Lost to graduation: outfielder/pitcher Joel Belfer.
Outlook: Cooper said, “We are an experienced team, returning eight of our nine starters from last year. We should be able to score lots of runs and be very aggressive on the base paths. Our biggest challenge will be our young pitching staff. We need to be able to throw strikes on a consistent basis and limit extra base runners via walks and hit batters.”

Conestoga

Head coach: Kevin Pechin, first year.
Last year’s record: 16-8 overall, 12-4 Central League (league champions).
Key returnees: Senior infielder/pitcher Tim Miller (5-1, 1.43 ERA last year, batted .339), senior first baseman Tom Fogarty (batted .353 with 17 RBIs), senior center fielder Greyson Avots (batted .387 with 18 RBI’s), senior outfielder Jonah Siegel (batted .333), senior pitcher Mark Anderson (4-1, 3.64 ERA), junior pitcher/third baseman Angus Mayock (4-0, 1.16 ERA), sophomore catcher Luke Czepiel (batted .327 with .564 OBP).
Others to watch: Sophomore infielder Luke Borger, sophomore shortstop Jacob Marcus, junior Eric Hutchinson.
Lost to graduation: Ryan Ogren (Elon), Brendan Little (North Carolina).
Outlook: With the loss of stars Ryan Ogren and Brendan Little to graduation, the Pioneers are in need of someone to fill their big shoes. Pechin said, “Tim Miller, Angus Mayock and Mark Anderson should provide the pitching necessary for [us] to compete in the Central League. If Fogarty, Siegel and Avots can pick up where they left off, look for [us] to be able to contend offensively as well.” Marcus will see a deal of time at shortstop.

Episcopal Academy

Head coach: Mike Hickey, third year (also was head coach at Malvern Prep for 11 years).
Last year’s record: 12-21 overall, 2-8 InterAc.
Key returnees: Senior outfielder AJ Lotsis, senior first baseman Alex Burman, senior right handed pitcher/outfielder Will Phillips, junior right handed pitcher/infielder Kyle Virbitsky, junior left handed pitcher Cam Van Hoorebeke, sophomore right handed pitcher/infielder Isaiah Payton.
Others to watch: freshman right handed pitcher/infielder Jack O’Reilly.
Lost to graduation: catcher Austin Morgan (Dickinson College), infielder Ben Burman (Susquehanna University).
Outlook: Hickey said, “We return six starters and our top three pitchers. For many of our returners this will be their third year as varsity starters. In 2015, we squared off with four nationally-ranked opponents, 17 of the top 25 teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in South Jersey, and the No. 1 team in Delaware. In 2016, our 40-plus game schedule may be even more competitive than last year. We have high expectations for this season. We are confident that if we stay healthy we will be contenders for the both the Inter-Ac and PAISAA championships.”

Friends’ Central

Head coach: Jon Rubin, third year.
Last year’s record: 14-12 overall, 5-5 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: Senior shortstop/pitcher and co-captain Gil Dreyfuss (batted .413 last year), senior infielder/pitcher and co-captain Joey Lawall (four-year starter), senior pitcher/outfelder Connor McVail (2.15 ERA in 45 innings pitched last year), junior pitcher Alec Andrews, junior outfielder/pitcher Chris Annas (batted .319 with .468 OBP last year), senior first baseman Steven Folwell (.435 on-base percentage last season).
Others to watch: Senior outfielder/pitcher Mike Norcini, junior catcher Ben Kenney.
Lost to graduation: outfielder/pitcher Ardon Fryer (Orange Coast College).
Outlook: Rubin said, “We have a strong group of seniors. Junior Alec Andrews is returning from season-ending knee surgery. Andrews and McVail should be top-of-the-rotation pitchers if they can get healthy and stay healthy. Ben Kenney will take over the catching responsibilities, has strong leadership skills, and we look for him to step up and take command of what should be a good group of returning pitchers. If we can overcome some pre season and early season injuries, we hope to contend for an FSL title in 2016.”

Haverford High

Head coach: Paul Bogosian, 30th year.
Last year’s record: 12-7 overall, 10-6 Central League.
Key returnees: Senior third baseman Nick Cerelli (batted .393 last year with 10 RBI’s, .541 slugging percentage, and was second team All-Central League); junior catcher Drew Fowler (batted .356 with nine RBI’s, .453 slugging percentage, and was second team All-Central League); junior shortstop Dylan Resnick (batted .343 with 20 RBI’s and .552 slugging precentage); and junior right-handed pitcher Corey Hunt (posted 3-2 record with 2.10 ERA).
Others to watch: Junior second baseman Luke Marmer, sophomore pitcher/outfielder Cole Humes.
Lost to graduation: Center fielder Tom Leonard, second baseman Kevin Maloney, pitcher Scott McKenna.
Outlook: Bogosian said, “We’re strong up the middle, and strong overall defensively and offensively. The pitching staff should be good. Our biggest challenge will be playing three-game weeks. The potential is there for a playoff berth, which would be 11 out of 16 years since 2000.”

Haverford School

Head coach: Bob Castell, 24th year.
Last year’s record: 25-5 overall, 7-3 InterAc.
Key returnees: Junior pitcher Tyler Dunbar (was 4-2 with 2.49 ERA last year), senior pitcher Ben Tracy (3-0, 1.72 ERA), senior pitcher Michael Warnick (2-1 in 31 innings), senior pitcher Cameron Miller (4-0, 1.21 ERA), senior catcher James McConnon (St. Joseph’s University-bound, had 23 RBI’s last year), junior infielder Tommy Toal (leadoff switch-hitter who batted .313 with 29 runs and 18 RBI’s last year), junior first baseman/catcher Bryan Hyland (batted .398 with 23 RBI’s, five home runs, 33 hits and 29 runs), sophomore infielder/pitcher Justin Meyer (batted .345 with 19 RBI’s, 20 runs, and was Fords’ closer last year, with 3-0 record and four saves in 17 innings), junior infielder David Hogarth (13 RBI’s, 18 runs, three-year starter at shortstop).
Lost to graduation: The team will have to replace the loss of four-year starter Kevin McGowan (LaSalle), along with Ryan Fuscaldo
(Dickinson), and Nick Greco.
Outlook: Castell said, “Our 2016 squad returns five positional starters from a year ago, along with four pitchers who had experience (all over 20-plus varsity innings last season, accounting for 16 victories) in 2015. We should be able to score runs and play solid defense with our experience in the infield, but will be replacing all of our outfield positions with first-time starters. The pitching staff has shown the ability to keep us in games, and close out games when needed – our team had 11 one-run victories last season, and three one-run losses). Top newcomers include outfielders Isaiah Winikur, Logan Keller, Drew Sterman and Nick Holtz, infielder Kenny Fitzpatrick and pitcher Dex Frederick. We’re hoping to contend for the Inter-Ac, and PAISAA titles.”

Lower Merion

Head coach: Jeff Nyce, second year.
Last year’s record: 4-12 overall, 2-12 Central League.
Key returnees: senior second baseman Brandon Jones, senior first baseman Eli Needle, senior catcher Alex Koch, senior outfielder Jeremy Hillsberg.
Others to watch: Senior pitcher Jesse Siebert, senior, pitcher/designated hitter/outfielder Danny Roth, senior outfielder Chris Goodwin, senior outfielder/pitcher Quinn Vagnoni, junior third baseman/pitcher Alex Hurowitz, sophomore shortstop/pitcher Jake Stoller.
Lost to graduation: pitcher Miles Michonowicz (Cumberland Country Community College), pitcher Dean Pritchard, catcher/pitcher Tony Stedeford, outfielder/pitcher Jordi Avalos.
Outlook: Nyce said, “Defense will be the strength of our team this season. The biggest key of the season will be consistency from the pitching staff. Throw strikes and let the defense make the plays. Our biggest challenge will be to play baseball the right way. Doing the little things that make teams work. If our team can make the routine plays and have the unselfish at bats that help the team, we will put ourself in position to win a lot of games. The pitchers will be challenged to pitch to contact and let the other team put the ball in play – that can be tough for a pitcher to do, the defense will need to work hard to prove themselves to the pitchers and give the pitchers more confidence to pitch to contact.”

Malvern Prep

Head coach: Freddy Hilliard, seventh year.
Last year’s record: 31-7 overall, 8-2 InterAc.
Key returnees: Senior outfielder Chance DiFebbo, junior catcher/right handed pitcher Shane Muntz, sophomore right handed pitcher Billy Corcoran, senior infielder Jake Mullan, junior infielder/right handed pitcher Matt Daller, senior first baseman/right handed pitcher Sean Flynn, sophomore right handed pitcher/outfielder Brady Devereux, senior right handed pitcher Brent Greeley.
Others to watch: Junior right handed pitcher Jalen Wade, junior right handed pitcher Jimmy Kingsbury.
Lost to graduation: righthanded pitcher/outfielder Chris Butera (Lehigh), catcher Clay Koniencki (Monmouth), infielder Mark Gentilotti (Delaware), left handed pitcher Brendan Inglis (Lehigh), first baseman Tim Quinn (George Mason), center fielder Parker Abate (Misercordia), shortstop David Rodgers (Villanova), infielder Doug Hook (Elizabethtown), left handed pitcher Nick Parente (Babson).
Outlook: “We are very deep and talented on the mound,” said Hilliard. “If our pitchers can perform how we expect them to, and our defense makes plays behind them, we should be a difficult team to score runs against. Our biggest challenge will be to replace not only the offensive production we lost in our lineup but also the key defensive players and leadership the 2015 group had.”

Radnor

Head coach: Mark Jordan, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 12-9 overall, 10-6 Central League, lost to Sun Valley in PIAA Class AAA District One semifinals.
Key returnees: Senior outfielder Connor Wilson, senior outfielder Andrew Austen, senior infielder Matt Schaefer, senior catcher/outfuelder Pat Scheri, senior infielder Martin Connor, senior infielder Jack Collins, junior infielder Pat McDermott, junior pitcher Charlie Connolly, junior pitcher Will Hosgaard, junior infielder Jack Deshan.
Lost to graduation: Pitcher/infielder Sean Corelli (a team record 18 lifetime wins – six last year), pitcher/infielder Garrett McGurl (three wins), infielder Mike Lanzone, outfielder John Lord, catcher Will Girton.
Outlook: Radnor will need to replace most of their starting pitching – Corelli and McGurl logged 70 innings and had nine wins combined. Juniors Connolly, Hoysgaard and Deshan will see plenty of mound time. Returning starters Wilson, Schaefer, Connor and McDermott will pace the offense. Collins, Austen and Scheri will anchor the defense. Junior outfielder Andrew Boujoukos and senior outfielder Ross Ebersole will also help the offense. Jordan said, “The tough Central League is going to be a challenge for [us]. If we can play clean defensively, we can be in most games. We will look to improve as the season goes along – and look to earn a postseason win for the fourth straight year.”

Shipley

Head coach: Bryan Bendowski, 13th year.
Last year’s record: 15-9 overall, 10-3 Friends’ Schools League.
Key returnees: Senior infielder Nick Wojtelwicz, senior first baseman Pete Sobleman, senior outfielder Phil Johnson, senior infielder Evan Spector, junior pitcher/outfielder Jack Dougherty, junior catcher Darien Pass, sophomore infielder Blake Rodack, sophomore pitcher/infielder Gerard Sweeney.
Others to watch: Junior infielder Jesse Haines (transfer from Haverford School), senior outfielder Griffin Daly, freshman outfielder Evan Johnson, freshman pitcher Calvin Costner, freshman catcher Reed Sullivan, freshman infielder Alex Springer.
Lost to graduation: Josh Spear, Brendan Marsh.
Outlook: Bendowski said, “We return seven of nine starters from last year’s championship team and all of our pitching. Add this to the talented group of underclassmen who can step in play, and you have yourself a solid baseball team who will look to make a run in the league playoffs and state tournament. Pitching and defense will be solid and our offense will look to put pressure on the opposing team’s defense.”

(Note: Archbishop Carroll, Devon Prep and Harriton did not send us preview information.)

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