2008-04-02 / Sports

New faces featured across North's roster

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter

There aren't many similarities between the 2007 and 2008 Williamsville North baseball rosters.

Thirteen players, including eight starters from last year's ECIC Division I championship team, graduated in June, leaving the majority of this spring's team coming from a JV team that went 18-3.

"I've lost six or seven (seniors) in one year but never 13," said North coach Jerry Scarcella. "I not only lost starters but also backups."

The good news is the players coming from JV should fit in nicely. Included in the newcomers are a solid group of junior pitchers - Jeff Teplitsky, Patrick O'Brien, Scott Herberger, Steve Pekarski and Matt Goraj.

Goraj has already been named the starter for North's opening game of the season, a non-league contest against Williamsville East at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 7 at home. He will probably see a lot of middle relief work.

Teplitsky is a left-handed pitcher. Herberger, O'Brien and Pekarski are hard-throwing right-handers.

Add in returning senior left-handed pitchers Ben Zwierzchowski (3-1 in 2007) and Matt Fleming (1-0 in 2007) as well as middle reliever senior Mike Koch (1-0, three saves in 2007) and Scarcella has a nice problem on his hands on who will start and be a reliever.

"We're very deep at pitching," said Scarcella. "That's our strength. I have a number of arms I am comfortable with. It will keep us close in games. I don't see us getting blown out too much because I can play four pitchers if I have to."

The only returning starter is senior center fielder Austin Benshadle. Last year, Benshadle batted .484 in the leadoff spot. Benshadle has been a starter for the past three years.

"He's the catalyst," said Scarcella. "He gets things going. He hits, bunts, steals bases, runs and plays good defense."

Another returning player is junior cleanup batter Nick Fronczak, who hit .450 and totaled 22 RBIs in the designated hitter spot last year. Fronczak is penciled in at first base.

The only other returning player is senior Garrett Crage, who saw limited action last year. Crage and junior Matt Wagner are battling for the starting second base duties. Other starting positions have been locked up by juniors Marc Kadish (shortstop), Alex Barth (third baseman), Steve Barth (right field), Anthony Longarzo (catcher) and sophomore James Nowicki (left field).

In addition to pitching, Scarcella sees team speed, something his teams haven't had in recent years, as a potential team strength. Scarcella cites Benshadle, Kadish, Nowicki, Alex and Steve Barth, Crage and senior outfielder Mike Bova as players who provide quickness.

Scarcella said his team has the potential to be good hitters but it remains to be seen because they have yet to go outside to practice.

Scarcella thinks the favorite in ECIC I is Jamestown but said every team in the league has a stud pitcher.

"There's a lot of talent here but it's hard to gauge where we are going to be," said Scarcella. "Any team can beat anybody but I think we can be in the middle of it. We can't make a lot of mistakes or give up free runs, especially against good teams like Jamestown."

"We have to play like a team," he continued. "I don't think we have one stud that will carry us through but we have a solid lineup. We have no blaring weaknesses. I think we will be very competitive and once playoffs come around, who knows. If our pitching comes through, we should be very tough in the playoffs."

The team manager is Stephan Kothe.

North finished 17-6 last year and lost to Orchard Park in the Section VI Class AA quarterfinals. Williamsville North 2008 Schedule 4-7 East ........................................ 4:30 p.m. 4-8 at St. Francis ........................ 4:30 p.m. 4-9 Orchard Park........................ 4:30 p.m. 4-10 at Frontier................................ 5 p.m. 4-19 ECIC-MMA Challenge at Dunn Tire Park ................................................... 2 p.m. 4-20 ECIC-MMA Challenge at Dunn Tire Park ...................................................... TBA 4-21 W.S. West............................. 4:45 p.m. 4-23 Lancaster............................. 4:45 p.m. 4-25 at Clarence.......................... 4:45 p.m. 4-29 Canisius ............................... 4:30 p.m. 4-30 at Jamestown ..................... 5:15 p.m. 5-2 at Orchard Park ........................ 5 p.m. 5-5 Frontier.................................. 4:30 p.m. 5-6 South...................................... 4:30 p.m. 5-7 at W.S. West .......................... 4:45 p.m. 5-9 at Lancaster .......................... 4:45 p.m. 5-10 atMcQuaid(doubleheader) 1 and 3 p.m. 5-12 Clarence .............................. 4:45 p.m. 5-16 Jamestown .......................... 5:15 p.m. 5-22 at East ................................. 4:30 p.m.

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