HAGERSTOWN —The Hagerstown Community College baseball team got off to a 10-1 start last season, then faltered, going 17-25 the rest of the way to finish 27-26.
This season, the Hawks know they must execute more consistently in order to be more successful. HCC coach Scott Jennings is searching through the 18 players on the roster to find the right combinations needed for a successful season.
“We are not overloaded with talent by any stretch of the imagination,” Jennings said. “But what we have is a group of good kids that are working hard and want to get better. I believe that we are going to be competitive. We are going to have to play well in order to achieve that goal.”
HCC will be using 10 pitchers this spring — sophomores Dakota Deshong, Thomas Rose, Kevin Bair, Dylan Eyler (Smithsburg) and Eric Schanzenbacher (Greencastle-Antrim), and freshmen Devin Schaeffer (Greencastle), Trey Kirby, Tanner Partlow (Musselman), Tyler Walter and Cooper Ayres.
“The role of starters and relievers will be determined by production,” Jennings said. “Right now, our pitching staff is in a little bit of limbo because of injuries. We should be getting those fellows back soon.”
Deshong, the only left-hander on the staff, is coming back from a pinched nerve in his pitching elbow. Rose had a broken ankle and Schaeffer had a broken foot.
Sophomore Dylan Dunn is the Hawks’ top catcher. Dunn hit .299 last year as a freshman with 32 RBIs. Backing him up is freshman Keith Johnson (South Hagerstown).
Walter is penciled in as the starting first baseman. Sophomore Drew DeShong (Greencastle) is at second, where he hit .288 last year with 20 RBIs.
Freshman Zachary Mathews also is at second. Ayers will be the shortstop and Schanzenbacher will start at third. Schanzenbacher hit .325 last year with 32 RBIs. Freshman Jordan Nicewarner (South Hagerstown) will see time at first, third, designated hitter and possibly the outfield.
Freshman Garrett Sprankle (Catoctin) will be in left field. Two more freshmen, C.J. Owings (North Hagerstown) and Alex Rinehart, will see time in both center and right. When Schaeffer gets healthy, he can play any of the outfield spots and could also DH.
HCC will open up its season on Saturday with a noon doubleheader at Shenandoah, then will play five games at home. The Hawks will host Alfred State in back-to-back doubleheaders on March 2 (1 p.m.) and March 3 (noon) before hosting Shenandoah on March 5 (3 p.m.).
After that, the Hawks will fly south on a spring trip and play 10 games at Vero Beach, Fla., from March 8-13 before returning home.
“We are playing a very competitive schedule once again,” Jennings said. “Our region is going to be tough.”
HCC will host the Region XX Tournament from May 10-12. If the Hawks win the region tournament, they would host the double-elimination District Tournament from May 17-19. The district winner advances to the NJCAA World Series at Grand Junction, Colo., from May 25 through June 1.