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Unknown awaits Warriors on diamond

WA returns only McDermott, Nowicki to opening day lineup

Wyoming Area baseball captains are, from left to right, seniors Kody Nowicki and Randy McDermott.

photo by rick notari

Coming off of an 11-win season and an appearance in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals, the Wyoming Area baseball team has some holes to fill in its lineup as it will feature just two returning starters in its opening day lineup on April 1 against at home against Tunkhannock. And that’s no foolin’.

Senior co-captains Randy McDermott and Kody Nowicki are the only two healthy starters back for the Warriors as seniors Chris Murphy and Dave Drahus are out at least for part of the season with injuries.

“It is unclear as to where we will be,” said Wyoming Area coach Chick Andrewscavage. “We have a lot of seniors and a lot of underclassmen but we lost a lot from last year. We know we have a team somewhere in that group. We just have to find the right combination.”

That combination will start with Nowicki. The all-star catcher is back behind the dish after hitting .435 last season with 13 RBI and five extra-base hits. The Warriors will need Nowicki’s leadership to lead a pitching staff that Andrewscavage said will be “pitching by committee” until one or two guys step forward to take the No. 2 spot in the rotation.

Murphy would have been the No. 1 guy heading into the season, but he is still rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered during football season. Andrewscavage said he could be back by late April or early May. With Murphy out, junior left-hander Dylan Maloney slides to the No. 1 spot for WA. Maloney was 3-1 as a sophomore and allowed just three earned runs in 21 innings of action. He also batted .318 in a limited role at the plate.

That leaves seniors Ron Klepadlo and Kyle Colarusso, junior Matt Klus and Adam Romanowski, and sophomores Eric Walkowiak and Jake Granteed battling to join Maloney in the rotation. Colarusso is the only one of the bunch that has varsity pitching experience, having logged two innings of work last season in two games.

McDermott moves to shortstop to anchor the infield after a solid season at second base last year. McDermott batted .270 as a junior but drove in 14 runs and scored 11. Drahus was to replace McDermott at second base, but that task will now be up to senior Ryan Carey who saw varsity time last season mostly as a reserve outfielder. Should Drahus – who drove in seven runs and scored seven runs last season – return, he or Carey could move back to the outfield.

The corners will be manned by Colarusso who has gotten the nod at first base, and sophomore third baseman Trent Grove who is leading the way among a host of candidates. Grove is also the backup catcher. Klepadlo, Klus and Granteed can all also play third base and are battling for playing time at the hot corner.

In the outfield, Andrewscavage says a combination of players will play the three positions.

Seniors PJ Bone and Dustin Harris, along with sophomore Nick O’Brien lead a host of others vying for playing time in the outfield. Bone batted .307 in eight games last year while driving in five runs for the Warriors. He is the only WA outfielder – besides Carey and Drahus – with any varsity experience.

“The weather and our inexperience are hurting us right now,” said Andrewscavage. “We lost two games already this week, and when you can’t play, it’s tough to judge what you have. Looks like we are going to be learning on the fly.”

But the lack of outside baseball activity has not discouraged this year’s version of the Warriors according to Andrewscavage.

“The season should be fun,” said the third-year WA skipper while his players were warming up on a snow covered Atlas Field on Friday. “They have a great attitude and are always hustling. They’re willing to go through anything. Last week we were out in eight inches of snow trying to do some baseball things. They are a good group of kids.”

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