The 2011 season saw improvement for the Hiram College baseball team, but the Terriers will look for more this spring as they move closer to the start of the 2012 season.
Hiram ended last season with a 9-19 overall record and a disappointing 1-11 effort in North Coast Athletic Conference play. The Terriers did lose some key players last year in graduated seniors Andy Marsh, Andy Richey and All-NCAC outfielder Doug Adkins, but Hiram does return a core group of players who gained valuable experience in 2010 that should help the Terriers this season.
“We graduated a very valuable class of seniors last spring,” said veteran Head Coach Howard Jenter. “Although not a big class number wise, they were a group that provided solid leadership and left many positive lessons for this year’s team.”
This spring, Hiram returns eight letterwinners, including five starting position players and three starting pitchers. The Terriers will look to four seniors to be the leaders of this year’s team in Randy Miller (Glenmont/West Holmes), Torrey Stimson (Hudson/Walled Lake, Mich.), John Colla (Austintown/ Ursuline) and Paul Yoculan (Erie, Pa./Mercyhurst Prep).
The infield will be led by Stimson and Miller this spring. Stimson led all returning infielders in hitting last season with a .339 batting average (21-of-62). He was third on the team in runs scored with 14 to go along with a triple, five doubles and seven runs batted in. Miller started all 26 games he played in last season rotating between the starting catcher and third baseman. Miller posted a .273 batting average (24-of-88) as a junior and was fifth on the team in runs scored with 11. He also hit four doubles and drove in nine runs. Joining Stimson and Miller in the infield this season will be Yoculan, junior Travis Richey (Petersburg/Springfield Local) and sophomores Tim Calhoun (Canfield) and Shaine Haidet (Alliance/Marlington).
Yoculan saw most his playing time as a backup catcher in 2010. He recorded three hits in 20 attempts with a triple, two runs scored and three RBI. Richey will also see playing time on the mound as a pitcher. Last season as an infielder, he batted .225 at the plate (nine-of-40) with a double, six runs scored and four RBI. Defensively, Richey had an impressive .968 fielding percentage recording 16 putouts, 45 assists and had just two errors. Calhoun saw playing time as the team’s number two catcher. He ended his first season with the program with a .263 batting average (10-of-38) with one double, seven runs scored and seven RBI. Defensively, he had a .968 fielding percentage with 16 putouts, 45 assists and two errors. Haidet played in 25 games as a freshman and started 22. He posted a .227 batting average (15-of-66) and hit a double, scored five runs and had four RBI.
In addition, look for sophomore George Blake (Parma) and junior Lee Cancilla (Cleveland/St. Ignatius) to compete for playing time. Blake played in 13 games and started 10 as a freshman. He batted .286 at the plate (10-of-35) with three doubles, six runs scored and three RBI. Cancilla returns to the team this spring after taking last season off. As a freshman, he saw playing time in three games as a backup.
The outfield will have just two returning players in junior Joel Turner (Vermilion) and sophomore Mike Gatta (McDonald). Both saw limited playing time last season as backups. Turner saw action in four games and recorded two hits in four attempts with two doubles. Gatta played in seven games and started three. He had one hit in eight attempts and scored a pair of runs.
Hiram will have the luxury of an experienced pitching corp. Colla, Richey and junior Mike Lalonde (Willowick/South) will all see time in the starting rotation. A year ago, Colla made five appearances, including four starts, and pitched 12 and two-thirds innings. He finished the season with 10 strikeouts which ranked in a tie for sixth on the team. In addition to playing in the infield, Richey made seven appearances on the mound last spring and started all seven games. He recorded one complete game and posted a 2-5 overall record with an 8.42 earned run average. He was third on the team in innings pitched with 31 and was second in strikeouts with 21. Lalonde pitched in nine games in 2010 and started eight. He led all returning pitchers in ERA at 6.70 and had a 2-4 record. He also led thet eam in innings pitched (43) and strikeouts (33). In addition, Lalonde was tied for the team-lead in complete games with two and shutouts with one.
In addition to the starters, look for junior Eric Cameron (Akron/Green), Blake and Gatta to provide depth as possible options coming out of the bullpen. Last year, Cameron pitched in one game and one-and-a-third innings. Gatta pitched in three games in relief totaling five innings with five strikeouts. Blake appeared in two games and had one strikeout in two innings.
“The players have worked long and hard to prepare physically for a successful season,” said Jenter. “I have been very pleased with the “chemistry” that has developed over the past six months with this group. It is a nice blend of returning experienced players and some pretty talented first year players.”
Hiram begins the 2012 season with its annual spring trip to Florida. This season, the Terriers will travel to Fort Myers, Fla. and will play a doubleheader against Emerson (Mass.) University on Sunday, Mar. 4 in the season opener. The first game is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.
“I can’t wait to get these guys out on the field and see how this 2012 club competes,” stated Jenter. “I know they are excited and looking forward to getting the season underway!”