CLAYTON — One thing the Northmont Varsity Baseball Team will not lack this year is plenty of depth.
The team has 12 seniors, six juniors and one sophomore in the lineup.
Returning players include senior catcher C.J. VanSchaik, two first basemen that will also pitch; seniors Ryan Pullins and Carson Wagoner, senior second baseman Adam Bendinelli, three year starter senior Cole Stephens at shortstop, and senior Ryan Tanto at third base. Stephens and Tanto will also see action on the mound.
The outfield features seniors Garrett McGough, Caden Cronebach, Jon Eber and Nick Moomey. New to the team this year is senior Joey Pryor who will play outfield, third base and pitch. Senior Austin Weaver will pitch and can play any position as needed.
“We have a lot of guys back that have played some varsity ball,” Head Coach Chuck Harlow said. “We have three guys that pitched on varsity last year and we have some guys that pitched a little last year. I feel that we are eight or nine deep on the pitching staff, so I feel that we will be OK on the mound.”
Harlow feels that the top of the batting order is solid.
“Our one, two, three and four hitters are pretty much in a groove based on the two scrimmages we’ve had, so right now we are trying to figure out the rest of the lineup,” Harlow said. “I think we are going to be a competitive team, or at least have a chance to be competitive. There is a big difference between what it says on paper and what actually happens on the field. You have to get out there and compete. With every new team you just hope that they can go out and compete.”
Northmont scrimmaged Brookville on March 15, a scrimmage that went eight innings with the Thunderbolts winning a slugfest 15-11. Four days later against Troy the score ended up 4-2.
“Our offense has been pretty productive so far,” Harlow noted. “As far as on the mound, it takes pitchers a while to get going. Everybody looks great inside, but once you get outside in the dirt and wind and cold weather, that really changes things. Our downfall so far is that we need to throw more strikes. I think we will. We just have to get outside and get some playing time in.”
Harlow said the team has only managed to get out on its own field three or four times due to the weather.
“We’ve been outside but haven’t been able to actually get on the field that much,” Harlow commented. “We have a lot of good kids back and there is a lot of competition on our team, so we will see. Defensively we should be fairly solid. Usually pitching and defense have won ball games for us. Competitors rise to the top and we feel we have a chance to do that.”
This year the schedule will see some changes as far as what days games are played. In the past Northmont played on Monday and Tuesday and then Friday and Saturday.
“We had a heck of a time trying to find a game during the first two weeks when we had a bye, which is how the Greater Western Ohio Conference is set up in our division with only four teams, so two weeks in a row we have a bye. That is just not good for baseball,” Harlow noted. “We couldn’t hardly find anybody to play so we ended up picking up a few Wednesday and Thursday games instead of Monday and Tuesday, so when we get back from Florida we will be looking at playing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, which is OK, but you can’t control the weather so we are going to try to control what we do.”
The team headed to Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. on Friday where the Thunderbolts will face five opponents; Southwest DeKalb (Decatur, GA), Northview (Johns Creek, GA), Battle Ground Academy (Franklin, Tenn.), Fort Walton Beach and Gadsden City (Alabama).
After returning to Ohio the Thunderbolts will host West Carrollton on Wednesday, April 4 at ‘The Yard’ at 5 p.m.