The St. Marys Area Flying Dutch baseball team returns a strong corps of seniors and letter winners to form the nucleus of their 2011 season.
â€śOur strengths would be our senior leadership and the past experience of these players. They have championship game experience and know how to win big games,â€ť said Dutch head coach Tony Azzato.
The returning letter winners for the Dutch are seniors Nate Geist, Kevin Hoy, Luke Nicklas, Jordan Weinzierl, Bob Vollmer, Ryan Uhl and Rocco Harshbarger and junior Justin Quiggle.
Coach Azzato feels that a question mark for his team will be pitching.
â€śPitching is always any teamâ€™s question mark, especially when you play baseball in northwestern Pennsylvania. We all know the weather wonâ€™t cooperate with our schedules and we are going to see multiple four-game weeks possible and that means a lot of wear on our pitchersâ€™ arms, so we are going to need some people to step up when called upon,â€ť said Azzato.
The Dutch will have Ryan Uhl at first base, Jordan Weinzierl at shortstop, Kevin Hoy at third base and Nate Geist at second. Also expecting to see action on the infield are Robert Watts, Mitchell Meyer, Dalton Kline and Branden Tyger.
The outfield will consist of Bob Vollmer, Luke Nicklas, Justin Quiggle and Rocco Harshbarger. Also seeing action will be Greg Copelli, David Aul and Luke Schreiber. Sophomore Brandon Vollmer will be behind the plate.
â€śAs (it is) every year, each teamâ€™s goal is obviously to win a district championship. I would like to think that with what weâ€™ve done this offseason and the work these guys have done last summer and into this past winter, we put ourselves in the best position to do so,â€ť said Azzato.
Asked who would be the team to beat in 2011, Azzato said, â€śWith winning the district championship the past seven years, itâ€™s hard not to say Punxsutawney. Weâ€™ve had our eyes on them these past couple of years and put ourselves in the position to win, but they always found a way to pull it out. But with only having four teams in our class (AAA), you canâ€™t look past Clearfield or Bradford as well. Sid (Lansberry) has been at Clearfield for close to 40 years now and the kids respond to him and he can get anyone to play. Bradford is working with a new head coach this year, but I know they have some solid kids in the middle of their lineup returning.â€ť
Azzatoâ€™s coaching staff consists of Scott Meyer, Ken Vogt Jr., Josh Geitner, Hoss Cunningham and Wes Harshbarger.
Members of the Dutch junior varsity squad are Anthony Cesa, Shane Haberberger, Brock Lewis, Rudy Gleixner, Jake Wehler, Kyle Fedder, Alex Tyger, Quinn Cunningham, Robbie Glass, Nick Burdick, Colby Lenox, Joel Coppella, Todd Barnes, Justin Beimel, Caleb Bennett and Lucas Lovenduski.