The Elk County Catholic Crusaders baseball team returns 10 letter winners from the 2010 squad, which won the District 9-A title and went into the second round of the PIAA playoffs before being eliminated.
Of the 10 returning letter winners, eight are seniors: Zac Brody, Jake Cortina, Ben Daghir, Luke Daghir, Ricky Pearsall, Kyle Schneider, Sam Schneider and Eric Wehler. The other two returning letter winners are junior Pat Brennen and sophomore Jack Herzing.
"Pitching will be one of our strong points this season," said Father Eric Vogt, ECCHS head coach. "We return four starting pitchers in Ben Daghir, Jack Herzing, Pat Brennen and Joe Childs. We also have three relief pitchers in Luke Daghir, Josh Feldbauer and Sam Schneider.
"We should be pretty good this season, as the players all played summer ball last year and although we haven't had much time to play outside this season, the players are very athletic and I feel we will be ready when we start playing games. One thing I am looking for this season is having one or more of the seniors stepping up and taking over the leadership role for the team. Overall, we should be pretty solid in the field and we have some very good hitters again this season. We have a couple of long ball hitters again this year.
"We lost one senior off of last year's team and another starter didn't come out this season, otherwise we have plenty of experience on the squad. If we can stay healthy and get a few breaks here and there, we could have a very good season.
"Our goals this season are to duplicate last season's success and hopefully improve on it, but that will take some hard work and dedication on the part of the entire team. The squad had a great attitude going into the season and hopefully that will continue and even improve as the season goes on. We will take one game at a time and concentrate on that particular game and not worry about the previous or next game. Hopefully we will peak at the right time, like we did in 2010."
The 2011 Elk Catholic varsity squad will consist of 15 players this season. Senior members of the team are Zac Brody, Jake Cortina, Ben Daghir, Luke Daghir, Josh Feldbauer, Ricky Pearsall, Kyle Schneider, Sam Schneider and Eric Wehler. Junior team members are Pat Brennen, Bryan Haberberger and Joe Childs, and sophomores Jack Herzing and Joe McLaughlin round out the varsity squad.
The junior varsity squad will consist of the following sophomores: Wesley Brennen, John Cappiello, Bruno Cavalline, Ben Cortina, Alex Herzing, Shea Meyer, Mitchell O'Neil and Nicholas Quagliani. The freshmen members of the squad are Ryan Childs, Taylor Feronti, Andrew Gebauer, Cory Huff, Vincent Jacob, Colton Lecker, Ben Reuscher, Brandon Schlimm and Ivan Wortman.
Assisting Fr. Vogt in the coaching department this season will be Tom Zampogna, Russ Daniels and Rick Polinski on the varsity level, and Mike Cortina, Wes Meyer, Dean Gerber and Dan Scutella on the JV level.
The Crusaders are scheduled to open their season on Friday, April 1, when they play at DuBois Central Catholic.