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Baseball team looks to be 'solid' club inside and out

Front row: Josh Ardnt, Chris McGowan, Vincent Griffith, Ryan Kitchner, Travis Shufflin, Shawn Donaldson, Colin McGeen and Jeremy White. Back row: David Kitchner, Brennen Orr, P.J. Piesko, Nate Brubaker, Jordan Anderson, Nate Morris, Tyler Scott and Coach Jeff Willis. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
May 08, 2013 - Varsity Baseball Coach Jeff Willis had a lot of returning players, which is a good thing because he's facing some stiff competition.

"We've got a lot of varsity baseball experience that came back; however, the league we're in is very tough," Willis said. "To win a league (title) would be a fantastic accomplishment for this team."

The team currently has a record of 2-4

"Victories aside we're looking to prove to ourselves that we can be a solid baseball club inside and out, from top to bottom," he said. "If we can do that, we should be able to do a lot of things."

While the league they play in is a tough one, Wills said they have turned their focus this year to teams outside of their league.

"It's the teams that aren't in our league that we have focused on playing quality baseball against and proving to everyone that we're just as good of quality as anybody else in our league," he said.

The 15-man roster is comprised of eight seniors and seven juniors. Out of those 15, 10 players have played for Willis at one point or another in the past three years.

The strengths of the team, Willis said, are defense and starting pitching.

"Defense and our pitching is what we're leaning on," he said. "Not that we're a bad offensive team, but we're stronger defensively and in pitching than we are offensively."

Senior Nate Brubaker along with juniors P.J. Piesko and Travis Shufflin are the strength on the mound.

Contributors to the defensive and offensive side include senior catcher and outfielder Brennen Orrs, leadoff hitter Colin McGeen, three-year "utility guy," Vincent Griffith, Shawn Donaldson, and three-year starter-up-the-middle, Ryan Kitchner and behind the plate Josh Ardnt.

"We'll be looking for contributions from all of them in some aspect," added Willis. "At some point in the year, I am going to need their leadership abilities to help us."

While the main goal is to play a solid unit, Willis said they want to win a league championship.

"A lot of these kids have been looking at this banner (in the gym) with no regional title," he said. "We'd like to win a district and get ourselves in position to win regional and maybe even go further from there."

"I think this is a big year for the program. This is my fifth year. I finally feel I have wrapped my hands around this and made it my own," Willis added. "We got to prove some things this year to ourselves and get back to the winning ways (Oxford experienced) before I took (over) the program."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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