MCMECHEN - With the departure of nine seniors, Bishop Donahue will look to replace the nucleus of the 2011-12 OVAC Class 1A championship team that made an appearance in the West Virginia Class A, Region One, Section One championship game.
Players lost from the 16-3 squad include Wiley Koontz, Garrett Yurisko, Kyle Gillis, Austin Ghaphery and Marshall Reager.
''Koontz batted .461 and had eight home runs and 42 RBI, while Yurisko and Gillis hit .420 and .400 (respectively),'' Bishops second-year coach Bob Kleeh said. ''Ghaphery went 7-1 on the mound with a 2.14 ERA and Reager added a .348 average. Plus they were all great leaders.''
Not all will be lost as several key returnees will help shape the 2013 team.
Kleeh expects a big year from Philip Smith, while the coach also thinks that pitcher/second baseman Joey Myers and catcher/outfielder Jordan Bonar could step into key roles.
Smith played in both the outfield and on second base a year ago as he averaged .424 at the plate and also brought in 34 batters.
Smith, Myers, Bonar and Logan Herrick make up the senior class. Herrick is set to see action at second base.
Myers will match his 5-1 record from a year ago with junior Hunter Kaschke, who also collected five victories last season.
Bryce Jones will be a major key to the Bishops' success as the versatile junior will split action at shortstop, pitcher and outfielder.
Other juniors include Lance LeMastor (first base/outfielder), Austin Cunningham (catcher, pitcher, infielder, outfielder), and Chris Vani (catcher, outfielder, infielder).
Alex Riedel headlines a ''very nice'' sophomore class. Riedel caught every game as a freshman and added a .342 batting average.
The rest of the class includes Matt Vucelik (infielder/pitcher), Chance Truex (pitcher, first baseman), Andrew Cunningham (pitcher, outfielder) and Brett Moore (infielder, outfielder, pitcher).
The freshman on the team are Zak McCoy (infielder, pitcher), Dylan Druschel (infielder) and Andrew Rush (pitcher, infielder).
''Our goal is to work hard every day and improve,'' Kleeh said. ''I really like this group of kids. I expect a lot out of them.''
Kleeh will be joined on the coaching staff by Eric Gordon, Kent Jones and Bill Yurisko.