|2016 COVINGTON BUCCANEERS...
The Covington Buccaneers head into the 2016 season with plenty of talent and experience up and down the roster.
Mitch Hirsch returns for his 14th season as Covington coach after a 14-14 overall last year and tying for second in the CCC.
Graduating off that team were Ty Boehringer, Austin Lefeld, Drew Schaurer and Sam Sherman, but Hirsch returns a senior laden roster in 2016 with hopes of improving on last season's mark.
Returning letterwinners include seniors James Grilliot, Jared Williams and Levi Winn; and juniors Nathan Blei, Christian Nelson and Tristan Sowers.
Five more seniors will be in the lineup with Noah Thomas, Coleman Ryan, Ben Kuether, Jordan Maschino and Chace Hinnegan.
Junior Kenny Atkinson and sophomore Mason Dilley return to the varsity squad on a full time basis after splitting time at the junior varsity level a year ago.
Still, you can have all of the talent in the world, but baseball is about pitching and defense.
"We will go as far as our pitching takes us," Hirsch said of what will determine his team's success in 2016. "We lost some good seniors last year, but we have some good players coming back. Pitching is always the key."
Lefeld was the "Go-To-Guy" on the hill last season and Ty Boehringer had a very dependable arm in the rotation. With both gone to graduation, Hirsch will count on juniors Nathan Blei and Christian Nelson to take the mantle.
"Nathan has played a lot of baseball and he's as steady as they come," Hirsch said. "Christian threw well in a scrimmage against Fort Loramie and hopefully thats a sign he is ready to take the next step."
There are other capable arms on the roster in seniors Levi Winn, Jared Williams and Jordan Maschino, as well as juniors Kenny Atkinson and Tristin Sowers. Plus, Mason Dilley has experience pitching at the junior varsity level.
"We've got some arms we can go to, but a lot of it depends on how well they come along," said Hirsch. "Jordan (Maschino) hasn't played in a while, but know he was good when he was younger. We're trying to get him back into the groove. Levi, Jared and Tristin threw some innings for us last year, so there is a comfort level with those guys."
Defensively, Covington's infield will have a new look as well. Drew Schaurer is gone from second, Ty Boehringer from first and Austin Lefeld from short. Plus, junior third baseman Branden Robinson may be out for the season due to illness.
Still, Jared Williams has experience at third and short, while Nathan Blei is as good as any shortstop around. Plus, Christian Nelson has played first base and Noah Thomas is a very capable second baseman.
But the strength of the Covington defense is in the outfield led by returning All-Ohio performer James Grilliot in center. Grilliot can cover a lot of ground as can right fielder Levi Winn.
Jared Williams played left field a year ago, but may have top return to the infield depending on how things shake out.