BUCKHANNON – Young, very young.
That describes head coach Randy Tenney’s 2017 West Virginia Wesleyan baseball Bobcats.
The 42-player roster shows just four seniors and only four juniors to go along with 13 sophomores and 21 freshmen.
“We are excited about the potential of the upcoming season,” remarked veteran assistant coach Brett Ripley. “While we have a very young team overall, we have several upperclassmen who will play key roles.”
Those veterans are led by seniors James Fraser (shortstop) and John Koon (outfielder), both four-year starters for the ‘Cats. The other two seniors figured to be key contributors are third baseman Nick Bader and catcher Dillon Wagman.
Bader pounded the ball at a .359 clip last year, and Fraser batted .322, and they are the only two returning .300 performers. Koon hit .263.
Juniors who are expected to see considerable playing time will be first baseman Travis Renner and third baseman Wyatt Adkins, and the sophomores who look to see plenty of action are second baseman Greg Smith, second baseman Antonio Vega, outfielders Dylan Frye and Ryan Kiser and catcher Dom Castello.
Several members of a talented freshman class expected to make contributions early in their careers include catcher Eric Forbrick, first baseman Kyle Kania, and outfielders Kolby Wolfe and Austin Keene.
“Our pitching staff is very young, with no seniors, but has the potential to be very talented,” Ripley said.
Junior closer Chris Metrick, who racked up a 3-1 record and 11 saves last year and earned a second-team Mountain East Conference berth, leads the mound corps.
Sophomore hurlers hoping to build off strong frosh campaigns are Jake Bishop (2-1), Dillon Isom (1-1) and Hunter Rotarius (4-4).
“A talented group of freshmen will be called upon early to make a big impact,” Ripley noted. “Julio Medina, Ryan Giberson, Alex Wall, Ryan Reicoff, Zach Henderson, Griffin Roe and Travis Perry will all see varsity innings, both as starters and out of the bullpen.”
Tenney, starting his 28th season as head coach, will take his ‘Cats to Winter Haven (Fla.), where they will open a 11-game spring break schedule Saturday with a doubleheader with Gannon (Pa.).
Spring Break – Winter Haven, Fla.
March 4 – vs. Gannon (Pa.), doubleheader, 10 a.m.
March 5 – at Florida Southern, 1 p.m.
March 6 – vs. Findlay (Ohio), doubleheader, 9:15 a.m.
March 7 – vs. Mary (N. D.), 1:15 A.M.
March 8 – vs. Ashland (Ohio), at Auburndale, 9:30 a.m.
March 10 – vs. Northwood (Mich.) at Fort Pierce, 1 p.m.; vs. Chestnut Hill (Pa.) at Fort Pierce, 6:30 p.m.
March 11 – v s. Chestnut Hill (Pa.), doubleheader at Fort Pierce, 9:30 a.m.
March 14 – at Ohio Valley, 3 p.m.
March 18 – West Liberty, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
March 19 – Wheeling Jesuit, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
March 25 – at Fairmont State, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
March 26 – at Shepherd, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
March 29 – at Salem International, doubleheader, 3 p.m.
March 31 – at Notre Dame (Ohio), doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 2 – Urbana (Ohio), doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 8 – Charleston, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 9 – Charleston, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 11 – Ohio Valley, 3 p.m.
April 14 – at Concord, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 15 – at Concord, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 18 – Salem International, doubleheader, 3 p.m.
April 22 – West Virginia State, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 23 – West Virginia State, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 25 – Davis & Elkins, 6 p.m.
April 29 – at Virginia-Wise, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
April 30 – at Virginia-Wise, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
May 6 – at Glenville State, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
May 7 – Glennville State, doubleheader, 1 p.m.
May 11-14 – Mountain East Conference Tournament at Beckley.
JUNIOR VARSITY SCHEDULE
Spring Break – Winter Haven, Fla.
March 4 – vs. King’s College (Pa.), 3:30 p.m.
March 6 – vs. Ashland (Ohio), 9 a.m.
March 7 – vs. Mary (N. D.), 4:45 p.m.
March 8 – vs. Albion (Mich.), 9:30 a.m.
March 9 – vs. Chestnut Hill (Pa.), 7:30 p.m.
March 11 – vs. Penn State-Behrend (Pa.) at Fort Pierce, 12: 30 p.m.
March 21 – at Charleston, doubleheader, 5 p.m.
April 5 – Charleston, doubleheader, 5 p.m.