GREEN There are two things the Green baseball team won’t have this spring: a large senior class and a pitching staff with a wealth of varsity experience.
The Bulldogs boast just five seniors and graduated the bulk of their pitching staff that anchored a winning season one year ago. In their place, Green has a collection of newcomers and returning players looking to carve out bigger roles this spring.
"The team will be young, with a roster that consists of only five seniors and (has) eight sophomores," head coach Jon Wallace said.
Seven returning letterwinners form the core of the team, with second baseman Nick Chapman, pitcher/outfielder Trent Montgomery, outfielder Jesse Allen and pitcher Jacob Davidson the only four senior letterwinners back from last season. Joining Davidson and Montgomery on the mound are juniors Nate Popovic and Devin Brown and sophomore Kodey Stewart, and finding both a starting rotation and a good relief corps from that group - along with a few other potential pitchers on the roster - will be a top priority for Wallace and his staff in the early going.
The same will be true for the position players and batting order, where inexperience will be a factor. First baseman Matthew Amison is back and after a strong football season playing linebacker for Wallace last fall, he’ll try to make the same impact on the diamond as a junior.
He and Chapman will anchor the right side of the infield. Sophomores Jacob Gonzalez, Ryan Smith and Nolan Rollyson and junior Jaret Muckley will compete for playing time alongside Amison and Chapman, while the outfield could be arguably the area most in flex for the Bulldogs.
Montgomery brings plenty of experience to that area along with sophomore Shay Simmer, but finding a cohesive three-man group behind a pitching staff that is a work in progress would go a long way toward locking down the lineup from a defensive perspective.
"Finding consistency from their pitching staff and gaining valuable experience from several promising newcomers as the season progresses will be the key to their success," Wallace said.
There has been plenty of success for the program over the past decade, both before and after the district’s move from the Suburban League to the Federal League in 2015. A state tournament appearance, regional final berth, three district titles and four league titles before the change and a strong push of eventual league champion Jackson last season are among the Bulldogs’ resume entries and for Wallace, now in his 15th season at the helm, this spring could be an interesting ride.
Teams love to have consistency and stability from year to year, but every program goes through transition years when large senior classes graduate and they work in new players or reserves moving into bigger roles on the team.
As with the rest of the Federal League, Green had little lead time getting into league play. A spring break trip to Florida yielded two wins in the Bulldogs’ first three games and after that chance to escape the cold, rain and overcast skies of Northeast Ohio for a week, it was back to the Buckeye State for the Federal League opener against GlenOak.
At this point, every game is a chance to learn and get a better handle on the batting order and rotation for the Bulldogs, be it in Florida or Ohio. A program that has been among the district’s most consistent in recent years has time to find out who it will be this spring before the postseason arrives, even if there are a few growing pains.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
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