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Published March 26. 2010 08:28AM


Head coach - Kenny Eck (4th year)

Assistant coaches - Adam Hausman, Derek Reis, Ricky Strohl

Last year's record - 5-15 overall (2-13 SL)

League - Schuylkill League Division I

District 11 classification - AA

Key losses - Zac DeMarco (C), CJ Lehman (OF), Tom Hartman (1B/OF)

Key returnees - Corey Cinicola (Sr., P/1B), Pat Janecki (Sr., SS/P), Ben Stermer (Sr., 3B/P), Dan Russo (Sr., CF/P)

Others to watch - Zac Knox (Sr., C/2B), Sean Green (Jr., 1B/LF), Dean DiBonifazio (Jr., 2B/RF), Dan Ciavarelle (So., SS/P)

Strengths - Eck pinpointed that the strength of the program will lie in the good senior class of pitchers in Cinicola, Janecki, Stermer and Russo, who all return from last year's rotation. The Olympians will look to their performances on the mound to keep them in games this year. In addition to the seasoned leadership on the mound, the Olympians' coaching staff feels they have a quality supporting cast surrounding them on the defensive end of the game.

Weaknesses - The Olympians roster is scattered with some underclassmen who haven't seen much playing time at the varsity level. So, with little experience under their belt, the Olympians are looking to them to have as quick as a smooth transition as possible to fill in some positions vacated with the departure of DeMarco (catcher), Lehman (outfield) and Hartman (first base/outfield) to graduation.

Quotable - "We're looking to stay healthy. If we stay healthy this year, I think we can be competitive in every game. Hopefully, we can also compete for a league title and qualify for the district playoffs." Head coach Kenny Eck.


Head coach - Brian Polaha (first year)

Assistant coaches - Kelly Bollinger, Don Rehrig, Rick Bennett, Joe Mooney

Last year's record - 12-10 overall (7-5 MVC)

League - Mountain Valley Conference

District 11 classification - AAA

Key losses - Ben Millen (C/SS), Danny Farole (C/OF), Brandyn Gatens (3B), Ryan Kuehn (P/1B)

Key returnees - Tyler Hill (Jr., P/OF), Kyle Hunter (Sr., P/SS), Dave Behler (Sr., P/1B), Tyler Harris (Jr., P/3B), Nick Storm (Sr., OF)

Others to watch - Jacen Nalesnik (Fr., C), Derrick Heffelfinger (Jr., 2B/SS)

Strengths - In his first year as the Indians head coach, Polaha is blessed with some quality returning pitching prospects in Tyler Hill, Tyler Harris, Dave Behler and Kyle Hunter, who pitched plenty of innings last year. Everyone except Hill, who was slowed by an injury, pitched 30-plus innings a year ago. So, once again, the Indians will look to the firepower on the mound to keep them in games this season. Meanwhile, Polaha feels a lot of the team's success will also lie on how Heffelfinger and Nalesnik respond on filling the position left behind by Millen and Farole, who took on major roles on the field, behind the plate and the middle infield.

Weaknesses - Regardless of some quality players returning to this year's Indians lineup, Polaha is still concerned about some inexperienced players at some of the key positions on the diamond. For instance, he's looking to a mere freshman in Nalesnik to handle the brunt of the storm from behind the plate. In addition to handling the responsibilities of handling the Indians' pitching, Nalesnik will be forced to prove himself against every single one of their MVC's opponents which are all 4A schools, while Lehighton is a AAA school by keeping them from stealing bases and putting runners into scoring position throughout every single game.

Quotable - "Well, they told me what their goals were when I first met with them. Obviously, it starts with qualifying for the district playoffs first. Then moving forward, we want to win the Mountain Valley Conference. And, if we can do that, it would be a huge step for the program since Lehighton has never accomplished that. And, after that, just moving forward, dropping down to 3A (in districts after playing all 4A schools in the MVC), it's about seeing what we can do from there. Obviously, a district title is a loftier goal. But, from what I see in the hard work these guys are putting in, it's definitely possible. It's achieveable." Head coach Brian Polaha.


Head coach - Jeff Nietz (16th year)

Assistant coaches - Andy Sherkness, Al Bostdorff, Tony Radocha

Last year's record - 13-10 overall (11-5 Schuylkill League Division II)

League - Schuylkill League Division II

District 11 classification - A

Key losses - Neal Andrews (P/SS), Will Eckhart (OF/P), Ian Updike (OF), Joel Butala (OF)

Key returnees - Joe Kloap (Sr., P/2B), Drew Sherkness (Sr., P/1B), Scott Nietz (Sr., C), Jim Stavinski (Sr., P/3B), Mark Stawick (Jr., SS/P)

Others to watch - Damian Gallagher (Sr., OF), John Petrovich (Jr., OF), Ryan Gimbi (Jr., P/OF), Joe Novonak (Jr., 3B/P), Brandon Dopira (Jr., SS/P), Brandan McGowan (So., 1B/P)

Strengths - The Colts' return their entire infield and 90-percent of their pitching rotation from last year's district qualifying team to take on this year's competition. Sherkness, Kloap, Stawick and Stavinski, who handled the infield a year ago, bring back plenty of experience as the four Colts have been playing together the last three years. Meanwhile, Kloap, Sherkness, Stavinski, Gimbi and Stawick saw plenty of time on the mound a year ago. So, with three games a week within the likes of the Schuylkill League, Nietz stated you can never have enough pitchers to utilize.

Weaknesses - Right now, the Colts lack depth behind the plate relying totally on the likes of Nietz and will look to a whole new core of outfielders after losing Eckhart, Andrews and Butala to graduation to handle the defensive grounds beyond the infield. Nietz is currently looking to see Gimbi, Petrovich and Gallagher fill those cleats this year.

Quotable - "I'm really looking forward to the season. These kids worked hard in the off-season and as well as we did last year, I think we can do even better this year. I'm really excited about what can happen this year. Our potential is magnificant and we want to reach our full potential." Head coach Jeff Nietz.


Head coach - Erv Prutzman (fourth year)

Assistant coaches - Steve Hluschak

Last year's record - 11-11 overall (10-10 CL)

League - Colonial League

District 11 classification - AA

Key losses - Cody Krupa, Brandon Olewine

Key returnees - Andy Hoch (Sr., C), Joe Seremula (Sr., P/1B), Eric Snyder (Jr., 2B/OF/P), Jake Kern (Jr., SS/P), Matt Gill (Jr., 3B), Dylan Bolton (Jr., OF/C)

Others to watch - Joe Dugan (Sr., P/1B), Zach Palansky (Jr., OF), Brody Minnich (Jr., P/OF), Chad Mazepa (Jr., INF), Marcus Kremposky (Jr., OF)

Strengths - Northern Lehigh gained a fair amount of varsity experience last year and is hoping that will carry over into a better 2010. Prutzman believes the experience alone will help his Bulldogs develop in all phases of the game.

Weaknesses - On paper, the Bulldogs don't have that many weaknesses. However, they are still young in some areas. Prutzman is hoping the seniors will provide the necessary leadership in order to overcome that lack of experience.

Quotable - "Our goal is to improve on last year's record of 11-11. We want to determine our own destiny through hard work and dedication. If we do that then I think we can play each game to our max potential." Head coach Erv Prutzman.


Head coach - Len Smith (28th year)

Assistant coaches - Duran Purrino, Beau Schleicher

Last year's record - 16-7 overall (14-4 CL)

League - Colonial League

District 11 classification - AAA

Key losses - Billy Dayton (OF), Gio Fricchione (P/SS), Jason Butterweck (OF/P), Kyle Creyer (P/3B), Ernie Ruch (C), Joe Bartolai (2B)

Key returnees - Nick Boyd (Sr., C), Colton Breininger (Sr., OF), Nate Kester (Sr., P/1B), Billy Moyer (Sr., SS), BJ Schantz (Sr., OF/P), Adam Wehr (INF/P)

Others to watch - Dalton Conway (Sr., INF/P), Sean Nagle (Sr., 2B/SS), Steve Rasmussen (Sr., OF/P), Andrew Rivera (Jr., 2B), Josh Suter (Jr., 1B), Sawyer Smith (Jr., P), Payton Bachman (So., OF/P), Ty Cunningham (So., 3B), Mike Hatcher (Jr., P/OF)

Strengths - The Tigers return a solid nucleus of players from last year's Colonial League West Division championship team. Breininger, Kester, Moyer and Wehr all saw plenty of innings along the Tigers' postseason quest, in which they suffered setbacks to Salisbury in the CL final and Blue Mountain in the District 11 Class 3A quarterfinals. It's a strong enough base for the Tigers to build a successful season around. On top of it, Smith likes the leadership his seniors Boyd, Breining, Kester, Moyer, Schantz and Moyer are providing to the underclassmen in helping the Tigers get back to where they left off in the postseason this year.

Weaknesses - The biggest question mark that the Tigers need to answer is do they have enough pitching to replace Creyer and Fricchione, who were forced to handle more innings when Kester got injured. The Tigers need people to step up and handle some of the pitching responsibilities from the mound and fill those voids as soon as possible.

Quotable - "It's the positive attitude and the work ethic that has come into this preseason that has been outstanding. The leadership from the upperclassmen has been very good. It's something we need to give direction to the underclassmen. But, as far as expectations go, we always strive to get ourselves into the position to play in big ball games or important ball games as you come down to the stretch of the season. And, one thing we try to do is number one get ourselves in the league playoffs. With the different reallignment this year, that could be a bit more difficult. But, if we get some solid pitching and timely hitting, I think we can put ourselves in a position to contend for that division in the Colonial League." Head coach Len Smith.


Head coach - Tom Smelas (sixth year)

Assistant coaches - Don Delich, Kyle Greenwood, Ryan Heller

Last year's record - 5-15 overall (4-14 CL)

League - Colonial League

District 11 classification - AA

Key losses - Matt Falcone, Jeff Noyes, Chris Lipfret

Key returnees - Joe Weber (Sr., P/1B), Christian Marcin (Jr., P/INF), Aaron Cook (So., 3B), Tyler Hahn (So., C), Tanner Gutekunst (So., OF)

Others to watch - Tyler Svetik (So., P/INF), Joey Tyahla (Jr., P/INF), Travis Labyack (Jr., OF), Nick Brogan (Jr., P/2B), Travis Verzino (So., OF)

Strengths - Team speed and a great work ethic figure to be the strengths of the Bombers in 2010. With that, look for Palmerton to be aggressive on the basepaths and force the action.

Weaknesses - Palmerton lost two main-stays in Falcone and Noyes to graduation. Both pitched a handful of games last year and now leave the Bombers a little thin in terms of pitching depth.

Quotable - "We will be looking for constant improvement in all phases since we are somewhat inexperienced. We'll need a more consistent defensive effort if we hope to compete for the post-season. Leadership is also an important aspect that I am hoping will emerge in the near future. So far the kids have been working hard and I hope that continues throughout the year." Head coach Tom Smelas.


Head coach - John Cooper (ninth year)

Assistant coaches - None

Last year's record - 10-10 overall (7-7 SL)

League - Schuylkill League, Division I

District 11 classification - AA

Key losses - Ryan Blasko, Matt Zellner, Brandon Heffelfinger, Ryan Fritzinger

Key returnees - Greg Pecha (Sr., P/C), Jeff Corby (Sr., 1B/OF), Kyle McAvoy (Sr., SS/P), Casey Lawrence (Sr., OF/P), Ryan Porambo (Sr., OF), Zach Stanko (Jr., 3B), Brandon Gurka (Jr., 2B)

Others to watch - Stephen Gulla (Jr., P/1B), Ryan Poeldnurk (Sr., OF/P), David Marouchoc (Jr., C)

Strengths - The Panthers have a lot of experience returning, as seven position players will be back from last year's district-qualifying club. Because of that, Panther Valley should have a lot of senior leadership. With all of those seniors, look for the Panthers to be solid on both offense and defense.

Weaknesses - According to head coach John Cooper, his team lacks a solid No. 1 pitcher. Cooper figures 4 or 5 guys will throw enough innings to put the team in position to win, but the Panthers will have to earn their outs in the field.

Quotable - "Our number one goal is to always qualify for the district playoffs that is always our number one priority. And, this year now being our second year in Division I and having a bit of expectation of what we're going to see, we're hoping to challenge for a Schuylkill League Division I championship also." Head coach John Cooper.


Head coach - Karl Rentzheimer (8th year)

Assistant coaches - Joe Anderton, Mike Borger

Last year's record - 14-7 overall (11-1 MVC)

League - Mountain Valley Conference

District 11 classification - AAAA

Key losses - Gil Ramos, Dixon Borger

Key returnees - Pat Kregeloh (Sr., 3B/P), Tim Shea (Sr., SS), Jake Chamberlain (Sr., 2B), Chris D'Arcy (Sr., C), Alex Jimenez (Sr., C/P), Derrik Walling (Jr., OF), Travis Raseley (Jr., OF), Drew Borger (Jr., INF), Chris Mendoza (Jr., INF), Xavier Hammond (Jr., P/1B)

Others to watch - Robert Getz (So., OF), James Beidleman (Jr., OF), John Guadagna (So., P/1B), Russ Baldino (Jr., P/INF)

Strengths - Experience, leadership, athleticism and intelligence are all terms that can be used to describe this year's team. The Bears return 15 players from a team that finished 11-1 in the Mountain Valley Conference a year ago, including reigning TIMES NEWS Baseball Player of the Year Pat Kregeloh. In addition to Kregeloh, Jake Chamberlain, Derrik Walling and Travis Raseley return as First Team Mountain Valley Conference All-Stars. Raseley was the team's leading hitter last year with a .485 batting average.

Weaknesses - Despite a solid nucleus of returnees, Pleasant Valley lacks consistency throughout the lineup. According to Rentzheimer, he has 12 players who swing the bat very well, but lack varisty game experience.

Quotable - "This is a very athletic and talented team. They are great learners and have worked very hard in the off-season, between fall ball (Fall League Champions with a 17-1 record) and the weight room. They are hungry to prove themselves out on the field and we should be successful if we maintain our focus and do not get complacent." Head coach Karl Rentzheimer.


Head coach - Jeff Reading (ninth year)

Assistant coaches - Tim Gombar, Caleb Calarco, Craig Valentine, Joe Halsnar, Henry Woods, Jay Pilla, Tom Rodgers, Brian Reading

Last year's record - 18-5 overall (15-4 SL)

League - Schuylkill League, Division I

District 11 classification - AA

Key losses - Tyler Milot, Jay Pilla, Chris Pilla, Wayde Williams, Ty Rother, Max Griffiths, Matt O'Donnell

Key returnees - Eric James (Sr., C), Jordan Heisler (Sr., 1B/P), Ryan Palsgrove (Jr., OF/P), Adam Smarr (Sr., 2B), Michael Streisel (Jr., 3B/P)

Others to watch - Derrek Linkchorst (Jr., SS), Mike Toth (Jr., OF), Carl Wittig (Jr., 1B), Trevor Reinhardt (Jr., P/1B), Anthony Bumbulsky (Sr., OF), Brandon Hosler (So., 2B/3B), Matt DelBorrello (So., 2B), Jackson George (So., C)

Strengths - As most people know, pitching is key. Tamaqua will return three hurlers with varsity experience in Streisel, Palsgrove and Heisler. Streisel led the way last year with a 5-0 record.

Weaknesses - The Raiders graduated every position but catcher from last year's squad and will be young and inexperienced in 2010. They will be forced to fill those holes with individuals who haven't had much playing time at the varsity level.

Quotable - "I don't care what team it is every year, we always talk about taking one game at a time and working on the things that we can do each time to get better. And, providing the outcome, if we do things well, the outcomes of the games should work in our favor. If we have any failures, then we need to create success by what we learn from our failures. With all of that said, a lot of these guys were part of that team last year, they just didn't play a whole lot, but they saw what that team accomplished in winning the division and then winning the championship. There are a bunch of players on the team who have that drive to attain those goals again and they're working hard towards it." Head coach Jeff Reading.


Head coach - Brian Kaminski (3rd year)

Assistant coaches - John Barna

Last year's record - 4-15 overall (4-11 Schuylkill League)

League - Schuylkill League Division II

District 11 classification - A

Key losses - Steven Baade (3B), Cody Campion (2B/SS/P), Justin Nemshick (2B/OF), Jake Miller (P/OF/SS), Jeremiah Kibler (1B/P), Ryan Dugan (OF)

Key returnees - Keith Barna (Sr., CF), Nathan Pfeiffer (Sr., P/3B)

Others to watch - Kevin Hinkle (Fr., SS), Christian Ormistan (Jr., 2B/SS), Dominic Palermo (Jr., 1B/DH), Samson Walton (So., C), William Lech (Jr., LF/P)

Strengths - The Wreckers will rely on the solid pitching arms of Pfeiffer, Barna and young newcomer Kevin Hinkle to get them quality innings on the mound and possibly lead to some key victories. Kaminski believes the Wreckers can also take advantage of their team speed on the base paths when they get guys on base to move them into scoring position.

Weaknesses - Just like many teams in the TN area, the Wreckers have been limited on the time they were able to get quality practice on the baseball diamond itself rather than in the high school gymnasium. Meanwhile, the Wreckers are a bit young and inexperienced at the varsity level. So, Kaminski is shifting his lineup around to accomodate their pitching schedule. If the Wreckers can develope a stable "nine," Kaminiski believes the Wreckers will be okay through the mid-point of the season.

Quotable - "We are improving every year. We are looking to better our win total from last year and sneak up on a few teams. We are hoping to get our young guys some valuable experience playing at this level, keep our arms healthy and have a productive year." Head coach Brian Kaminski.

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