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WVHS Baseball: Rams Begin Rebuilding Process

"It's definitely a rebuilding year."

Wyalusing Valley baseball coach David Hitchcock isn't sugarcoating what figures to be a very challenging year for the defending Northern Tier League East champions.

The graduation loss of six seniors decimated a roster that forged a 15-3 record in 2010.

Besides losing his top three starting pitchers—Tyler Huffman, Christian Carr and Anthony Carr—Hitchcock saw his most potent bat and best base stealer graduate. Pete Champluvier's five home runs accounted for half of the Rams' total last year. Caleb Sheldon had 19 of Wyalusing's 39 stolen bases.

To fill the holes and to make things even more interesting, the returning starters will all start the season at different positions than they had last year.

Senior Dan Curley is the most experienced pitcher returning, having worked 17 innings last year. The sidewinding Curley can befuddle hitters with his deceptive motion.

Sophomores Mitchell Pickett and Andrew Pickett also saw limited action on the mound last year.

Logan Hitchcock, a junior, will start at catcher, but has pitched in previous seasons.

Others who could see time on the mound are senior Reggie Davis, junior Joey Champluvier, sophomores Tyler Fenton and Shane Salsman and, possibly, freshman Cody Pickett.

Whoever pitches, Hitchcock wants one thing.

"They have to throw strikes."

Given the cold, damp weather early in the season, Hitchcock platoons his pitchers, but he wants to find a couple starters who can eat innings once league play begins.

With an untested defense behind them and no way of knowing how effective the offense will be, pitching will be the key to any success the Rams have this season.

"In the last couple of years, we beat teams by outhitting them," Hitchcock said.

Backing up Logan Hitchcock at catcher will be Champluvier, Andrew Pickett or senior Nate Hemenway.

Around the infield, seniors T.J. Beyer and Paul Hugo, a newcomer, are vying for first base. Beyer is a lefthander, who knows the system, while Hugo brings a high level of athleticism to the position.

Kye Novak, a junior, moves from second base to shortstop.

Mitchell Pickett and, possibly sophomore Jeremy Allyn, will see action at second base.

Allyn and junior Dom Ciccolini have been fighting for the third base spot.

There are a ton of candidates for the three outfield spots, and Hitchcock will have to find the best combination of fielding and offense to fill them.

Andrew Pickett, Hemenway, Davis, Champluvier, Salsman, Fenton and sophomore Chad Johnson all could see time.

Others who could see varsity time in some capacity are sophomore Suede Reed and freshmen Dan Cornelius and Zack Steidel.

"I really need the seniors to step up and find a way," Hitchcock said, singling out Hemenway, who may have to fill a lot of positions.

Offensively, Logan Hitchcock, who made the All-NTL East first team, is the obvious leader with a .480 batting average last year. He also led the team with 23 RBIs.

The only other returners with significant varsity at-bats were Davis, who hit .293; Novak, who hit .302 and Champluvier with a .286 average.

The Rams are scheduled to open the season at home on March 28 against Sullivan County. They also are slated to host Montrose on March 29.

Hitchcock is hoping the weather breaks so he can get some non-league games in before the league play starts.

"The kids are anxious to get started and I want to get started early because we have a lot of growing to do."

With the lack of proven starting pitching, he also doesn't want to be put in the position of playing five days in a row.

One thing that has impressed Hitchcock, especially with the sophomore class, is their positive attitudes.

"We have a lot of kids that want to play ball," he said.

While not waving the white flag, Hitchcock admits the Rams will have a tough time in the league.

"Towanda's got pitching; Canton's one of the better hitting teams; Athens is young and competitive and Sayre will be good," he said.

"It will be very challenging for us."

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