Athletics News

Baseball

Skipjacks looking for more consistency in 2012
Chesapeake College coming off baseball season of peaks and valleys

WYE MILLS – Consistency was an issue for Chesapeake College’s baseball team in 2011.

Chesapeake twice knocked off Frederick Community College when the Cougars were the top-ranked team in the nation, and the Skipjacks posted a winning conference record (14-12-1) for the seventh consecutive year. They also upset Hagerstown Community College – a team that had swept Chesapeake in the regular season – in the first round of the NJCAA Division I Region XX tournament.

While those wins illustrated the team’s potential, there were also bumps in the road. The Skipjacks were just 7-14 outside the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference, lost seven of their last 10 games, and finished with their first losing overall record (21-26-1) since 2002.

"We competed and we were in most of the games," said Frank Szymanski, whose team opens its 2012 season Friday against Macomb (Mich.) Community College in Richmond. "We just weren’t as consistent as we had been in the past.

"The ball bounced some funny ways," added Szymanski. "We lost four games where we only needed one more strike to win. It was one of those years."

Szymanski said the Skipjacks – who were 256-144-1 between 2003 and 2010 – have the potential to improve upon last year’s record.

"We want to improve every day, have fun and play meaningful games in May," said Szymanski, whose team was picked seventh in the 15-team conference in a preseason poll. "We host the region Final Four this year. We’re excited about that and we want to qualify and compete for a regional championship."

Five pitchers - Ryan Nichols (4-3, 3.83 ERA), Nik Nowottnick (3-2, 4.37 ERA), Royce Nichols (2-0, 6.23 ERA), Spencer Gillis (2-5, 7.48 ERA), and Ethan Coffey (1-4, 4.23 ERA) – return from last year’s staff. Royce Nichols and Coffey averaged close to a strikeout an inning while Nowottnick pitched a team-high 57 2/3 innings for the Skipjacks.

"They did a good job last year. We were only non-competitive three or four times out of 48 games last year, which wasn’t too bad," said Szymanski. "They’ve all thrown well in intra-squad games and in practice. The depth in our staff will give a lot of them an opportunity to emerge."

Coty Mulder, who compiled a 16-0 record over his last two high school seasons as St. Michaels High won consecutive state championships, leads a group of six freshman pitchers brought in by Szymanski. Mulder, however, is coming off an injury to his right (pitching) elbow, which has set him back.

"He’s coming back from an injury, so he’s a little bit behind," said Szymanski. "We’re hoping he can get back to full strength by midseason."

R.J. Angermier (Southern/Harwood), Jim Wix (Central Dauphin/Pa.), and William Kane (Marine Military Academy/Fla.) are other freshman pitchers, along with shortstop Kameron Stewart (Deep Creek/Va.) and outfielder Trent Ehret (Atlantic Shores/Va.).

"They’re going to get an opportunity to pitch right away," Szymanski said of his freshman pitchers. "We’re looking forward to it."

Five regulars – outfielder Ryan Apodaca (.309 average, 10 RBI, 22 runs), infielder Kevin Loftis (.352, 10, 15), first baseman Ricky Brady (.291, 25, 33), and catchers Brendon Burch (.297, 18, 11) and Johnathon Donalds (.290, 17, 17) – return to the field. Brady (three homers) and Burch (two homers) were power hitters with significant run production while Loftis had the squad’s second-best batting average.

The freshman outfielders – Paxton Batson (Colonel Richardson), Casey Joseph (St. Michaels), Ryan McCulley (Delmar/Del.), Pat Ingham (Cardinal Gibbons/Baltimore), and Ehret – and infielders – J.D. Correa (St. Michaels), Joel Rowe (Clear Spring, Md.), Matthew Schotanus (Northern/Fla.), Henry Faunce (DeMatha Catholic/Faulkner), and Stewart – are a mix of Eastern Shore and out-of-area recruits. Szymanski also has two freshman catching prospects in Lane Farmer (Annapolis Area Christian) and Kevin Beaver (DeMatha/Bowie), who is also an outfielder.

"For the first couple of weeks of the season we’re going to be mixing and matching, trying guys in different positions," said Szymanski. "Everyone will get an opportunity and the playing time will emerge from those who do well."

The Skipjacks are scheduled to play five games this weekend in Richmond. After Friday’s opener, they will play Guilford Technical Community College and Salem Community College on Saturday and Garrett College in a Sunday doubleheader.

"Our effort in preseason has been outstanding," said Szymanski. "This year we need to execute a little better, get a few more timely hits and, I believe, have a little more fun than we did last year."

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