The Suburbanite
  • Springfield baseball team heads into new season with new uniforms

  • Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.

    The Springfield Spartans’ boys baseball team is halfway toward proving that formula true.

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  • Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.
    The Springfield Spartans’ boys baseball team is halfway toward proving that formula true.
    Players donned new uniforms, many sporting flat-brimmed hats with the stickers still on, as they posed for a team photo prior to practice. Even with snowflakes swirling outside on a frigid Ohio day — the last day of winter — the energy was high and the start of the season isn’t far off.
    Continuity will be working in the Spartans’ favor this season both in terms of their coaching staff and roster. Head coach Scott Swan returns for his fifth year at the helm and his roster includes a number of returning players who will comprise the core of this year’s roster.
    After a 13-11 season and 5-9 record in Portage Trail Conference play, Springfield is looking to take a step up, and senior Mitch Stubbs and junior Shane Robinson will be two key figures for the Spartans.
    Stubbs will be counted on for solid defense at second base and also to help to anchor the rotation. He recorded four wins last season along with 33 strikeouts in 371⁄3 innings pitched while maintaining a 3.56 ERA.
    He will have help from Robinson, whose 6-foot-4 frame gives him an imposing presence on the mound when he’s not catching. Robinson was also among the team leaders last season with 18 runs scored, 26 hits, 14 runs batted in and a .371 batting average.
    Seniors Kyle McLean and A.J. Rodrigues also return in the infield and outfield, respectively. Junior Michael Perkins will see playing time in the outfield, and sophomore Ryan Vaughn settles in at third base and as a pitcher.
    Two transfers from nearby Lake Center Christian also should provide a boost for the Spartans. Sophomore left-hander Colin Floyd will be asked to provide the same sort of shot in the arm he gave to the basketball team during its 15-win season. Floyd, at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, has velocity in the mid-80s on the mound and will be expected to hit for power as well as average, Swan said.
    Fellow ex-Tiger Racco DiLauro also could see time on the mound, but his strong arm and solid glove work make him a threat to grab playing time on the infield as well.
    Junior Jake Kitchen, a multi-sport athlete who is new to the baseball team, and sophomore pitcher/shortstop Sean Rosen — returning after missing all of last season due to injury — also are additions to the roster.
    With a mix of new faces and returning players, Swan sees plenty of depth that will surely come in handy when the inevitable intervention of Northeast Ohio spring weather postpones games, forcing doubleheaders and games on consecutive days.
    “The area that we should be strong in is overall depth,” Swan said. “For the first time since I’ve been here, we are nearly two-deep at every position. We have more pitchers this season than in years past.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Hitting will be an area where the Spartans must improve if they are to better last season’s win total. While McLean, Perkins and Robinson all are coming off a season during which they posted a .300 or better batting average, the loss of Robinson’s older brother Seth to graduation leaves a large hole in the middle of the lineup. It’s a hole that Swan hopes Floyd, Rosen and DiLauro will help to fill.
    The Spartans will need that depth against a schedule with no obvious easy stretches.
    “Both our league opponents and nonleague opponents, including Ellet, Manchester and Firestone, are very tough,” Swan said. “I like our chances in each game, however, because of our depth. I feel that we will be able to use a variety of lineups to both compete and keep the players fresh.”
    The goals for the Spartans as they begin the season include improving on last season’s record, something they have done for three straight years. They also hope to finish higher in the PTC Metro Division and move past the sectional level in the state tournament, which is where their 2012 campaign ended.
    Swan also is doing some wishful thinking when it comes to the weather.
    “We are really looking forward to some nice weather, he said, “so we can get on the ballfield and compete.”

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