The 2016 edition of Hiram College baseball will have a new look with a handful of new faces. The Terriers enter the season as one of the youngest teams in the country with 19 freshman. Hiram has high hopes of contending for a NCAC title with its young talent mixed with veteran leadership.
Entering his 24th season as head coach of the program, head coach Howard Jenter knows that the season will be full of ups and downs. Jenter does welcome back 11 letter winners from last season's squad that won 10 games.
Here is how Hiram breaks down by position in 2016:
The group of infielders will be led by the team's lone senior, Trevor Foster (Warren, Ohio/Champion). Last season, Foster came on strong batting .347 and blasting a team leading two homers. In addition, Foster was tied for second on the team with 25 RBI's and was third with 41 hits on his way to Honorable Mention All-NCAC accolades.
Also returning is sophomore Phil Ward (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights). Ward posted a solid freshman campaign, batting .325 with a team-best 26 RBI's. He also scored 20 times and laced nine doubles.
Junior Ryan Fedor (Mantua, Ohio/Crestwood) and sophomore Tyler Carcioppolo (Seven Hills, Ohio/Normandy) will also provide experience in the infield. Fedor has seen action in 31 career games, driving in 11 runs and scoring nine times. Carcioppolo collected 10 hits and scored eight times last season and can also be depended on as a pitcher.
The outfield will see new players step up with the departure of two of the top Terriers from last season.
A trio of juniors will headline the group. Brandon Gros (Ravenna, Ohio/Kent Roosevelt) has played in 29 career games, including a career-high 18 contests. Kyle Torok (Kirtland, Ohio/Kirtland) saw action in 22 contests last season, collecting 10 hits and scoring eight times. In addition, he was second on the team with seven stolen bases. Ty Walchanowicz (Garfield Heights, Ohio/Garfield Heights) is a career .243 hitter and has seen significant action in his first two seasons.
Sophomore Kyle Watson (Warren, Ohio/Howland) will look to make the transition from infield to outfield. Last season, Watson drove in 16 runs and scored 11 times in 31 games. Junior Johnny Davis (Temecula, Calif./Linfield Christian) also returns and can provide extra depth.
Hiram also has a wealth of freshman who will all compete for playing time right away.
The Terriers pitching staff saw the departure of four core pitchers from last season's squad.
Junior Brandon Chesmar (Elyria, Ohio/Amherst Steele) will serve as the ace of the staff. Last season, Chesmar made six starts, striking out 14 batter and recording a victory. He has made 13 starts in his career with five total wins on the mound.
Junior Clayton Torok (Kirtland, Ohio/Kirtland) also returns and will be depended on for a larger role this season. Torok appeared in 10 games in a relief role, striking out 12 batters in 17.2 innings of work. He also finished the season with a win.
Carcioppolo, Harpster and Ward also can provide pitching depth if needed. The Terriers also welcome in eight new pitchers who will be depended on immediately.
The Terriers lost two catchers from last season and will see competition heading into 2016.
Sophomore Brandon Kish (Poland, Ohio/Struthers) is the lone Terrier returning behind the plate with collegiate experience. Kish played in 13 games, collecting two hits last season.
Freshman Austin DeGregory (Girard, Ohio/Girard) will compete for the starting job with Kish. Gros can also be called upon to provide service behind the plate.
The 2016 season begins with the Terriers annual trip to Florida at the Gene Cusic Classic. Hiram will play 10 games over the span of a week against eight different teams from around the country.
Upon returning back from Florida, Hiram will entertain crosstown rival Mount Union in a single nine inning game on March 16. The Terriers will follow that with road non-conference doubleheaders at Penn-State Fayette on March 19 and Westminster (Pa.) on March 29.
NCAC play opens on April 2, as the Terriers host Kenyon in a four-game weekend series. Hiram will then take on Grove City on April 5 in a non-conference tilt, before traveling to Oberlin for another four-game set starting on April 9.
Hiram will also take on conference rival Allegheny (Pa.) on April 16 and 17 and will close out conference play on April 23 and 24 by hosting preseason favorite Wooster.
The Terriers will close out the regular season on May 1 with a doubleheader at D'Youville (N.Y.). NCAC crossover weekend will be May 8 and 9, with the winners moving on to the four team NCAC Tournament.
Jenter knows that his young squad will face many challenges heading into the season. The Terriers will look to get off to a hot start in Florida and carry the momentum into conference play and beyond.