JACKSON TWP. The constants for Jackson baseball in recent years have been winning, top-notch facilities, plenty of experienced talent and a coaching staff led by head coach Bill Gamble.
The faces have changed, but the wins have kept coming. This spring will be the latest test of that pattern, as the Polar Bears look to replace their ace, current Ohio State freshman Yianni Skeriotis, and a slew of other talented seniors.
"We just finished our first week and that tryout period because our season got pushed back a week," Gamble said. "We return a lot of experience and we like a lot of the infielders and outfielders we have coming back."
It's a group that includes seniors like Trent Jones and Jake Aleman, who will both split time between the field and the mound, where they'll be part of a group trying to replace Skeriotis, who graduated with numerous school records.
"We're looking to see who's going to step up and be that Tuesday starter, that number one guy for us," Gamble said.
He added junior John Kulich to that mix, saying he sees a lot of potential in the junior hurler.
All told, there are 14 seniors on the roster leading up to the season and they bring a wealth of big game experience.
"So far, we've been in a good rhythm having a lot of guys with tournament experience and big game Federal League experience," Gamble said.
Connor Frazier is another talented returnee and the Gannon University commit figures to be a central part of the lineup.
The Polar Bears are also looking to identify a new starting catcher to begin the season due to injury, a factor that plays into their rotation overhaul in light of their graduation losses.
Then there's another constant: weather. It's as unpredictable as ever in Northeast Ohio this spring, leaving Jackson alternating between its sparkling new indoor facility and its synthetic turf field.
"We're trying to take advantage of our facilities and were actually able to get outside twice last week because of our turf," Gamble said.
When indoors, the spacious new practice facility has provided chances to get regular reps swinging the bat.
Success or lot, league titles or not, the challenges of weather confront every team and that will most likely remain the case for the early portion of the season.
When the clouds, rain and snow so slow and even disappear for a while, Jackson wants to make sure its recent run of dominance continues even if there are new faces leading the way.
The new senior class knows it has big shoes to fill and that making another postseason run will hinge on not only what they've done to get ready for those big games entering the year, but how they continue that work in between now and then.