NEW MANCHESTER - For the past couple of seasons, Oak Glen baseball has been on the rise with a 17-12 record last season and back-to-back sectional championships, and first-year coach Mat Deveaney is looking forward to the upward swing continuing at the Hancock County school.
And while the Golden Bears will have to move on without the help of six graduated seniors - Steven Barr, Tanner Crago, Jeff Hissam, Brandon Markham, Kole Koper and Steven Murray - there is still plenty of experience remaining to carry the load.
Seniors, and team captains, Trey Smith, Tyler Sneed, Vince "Bub" Haddox and Nathan Wright will be looked upon to provide leadership while Deveaney also sees outfield Matt McLaughlin as a contributor to the success of the younger kids.
''Despite having some veteran players I still consider us a young team,'' Deveaney said. ''We have some sophomores who will get the opportunity to prove themselves and a very talented group of freshmen.''
There are three pitchers who will be relied upon to carry the bulk of the load in Haddox, Steed and junior Kyle Woodruff. All three will normally be somewhere in the lineup when they are not pitching.
Smith and Steed are both three-year lettermen with Smith behind the plate and Steed occupying third base if he is not on the mound. Wright will be at first base with Woodruff at second and Haddox at shortstop while junior Justin Bailey will be utilized as a utility player. The outfield will consist of McLaughlin in center, junior Jakob Ford in left and freshman Zac Porter in right. Junior Drew Bailey will be the designated hitter.
The remainder of the roster includes junior Shane Logston (2B, OF), sophomores Tyler Click (OF, 1B, P), Lucas Nagy (3B, OF, P), Patrick Reardon (C, P, 3B), Ryan Six (OF) and Alex Wedgewood (3B, P) which the freshmen include Michael Campbell (C, OF, 1B, P), Devon Chadwick (OF), Noah Flowers (C), Derek Haddox (1B, 3B), Zack O'Brien (OF, 2B), Zac Porter (OF, 1B, P), Alex Shuman (IF, OF, P), Alex Shuman (IF, OF, P) and Alec Swiger (IF, OF, P).
''I am really looking forward to another successful season,'' Deveaney said. ''We have set our goals high as a team and are putting in plenty of hard work to get better each day."
''Our schedule is full of diversity with both small and large schools and teams from West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We want to see many different pitchers and opponents and hope that will prepare us for the postseason. We want to continue to work to be competitive. It is my first year here at Oak Glen, but I have been coaching for 20 years overall.
''We are trying to focus on the little things as a team, and by doing this I hope we will be able to build up to our larger goals. We will not get to where we want to be by just focusing on the end result. The main goal is to put together the most solid team we can for the postseason, with that some players may rise and some may fall, but we will move forward with a positive outlook as a team."