Frank Szymanski is a firm believer in the old adage, “You can’t have too much pitching.”
“We play so many doubleheaders and have so many playing dates on consecutive days,” said Szymanski, who will start his 17th season as Chesapeake College’s head baseball coach with 14 pitchers. “A JuCo season is so many games in such a short period of time that you have to carry a lot of pitchers.”
While the Skipjacks have plenty of pitching, they have less experience than usual with 22 freshmen on a 28-player squad.
“We believe the camaraderie and the chemistry has improved,” said Szymanski, whose 2015 team posted only the second losing record (15-26) in the program’s last 13 seasons. “I think the thing we need to work on the most is experience. We’re going to have to obviously gain some experience with playing so many freshmen.” Click here for more
Szymanski said the huge freshman class is “just the way things worked out.”
“Obviously in a two-year situation the roster turns over quite a bit,” said Szymanski, who has a 427-318-6 record in 16 seasons at Chesapeake. “The coaches and I wanted to go out and recruit some solid ballplayers who enjoy playing, work hard and have fun. We think we have a lot of them on this team.”
.Three sophomore returners – lefty Nekae Reid (1-1 in 2015), Jacob Roberts (0-1), and Cayden Stover – are back after serving on the 2015 pitching staff.
“He pitched well in a limited role last year,” Szymanski said of Reid. “He came out of the bullpen in some tight situations and pitched effectively, and followed that up with a good fall season.”
Stover’s innings pitched were limited mainly by his value in the field.
“We needed him to play the infield for us,” Szymanski said of Stover (.324 average, three home runs, 24 RBI, 33 runs). “He’s a five-tool guy who puts the team first. He will definitely be pitching more this season.”
Roberts, like Reid, pitched “in a limited role” last season, but Szymanski also sees his innings increasing this spring.
Matt Wojciechowski – a first-team all-state infielder last year at South Lakes (Va.) High – will both pitch and play middle infield for the Skipjacks.
“We’re excited to have him out on the field,” Szymanski said of Wojciechowski. “He’s got a solid glove, excellent range and a strong arm.”
Wojciechowski, Stover and a host of infielders – including Florida import Cameron Coale, whose best position is third – will see time all over the infield depending upon matchups and who is pitching for the Skipjacks.
“We try to play our infielders at second, short and third in the fall to give us the flexibility to move the guys around,” explained Szymanski.
Sophomore Devario Allen (.291 average, 18 RBI, 18 runs) is back after being the second-leading hitter on last year’s team. He will help anchor the outfield with fellow sophomores Roberts and Jake Shellenberger (.239, three RBI, 12 runs).
“Devario played well for us last year and had a good fall season,” said Szymanski.
Queen Anne’s County High graduate Adam Rovenolt, the sixth returning sophomore, is part of a catching contingent that includes freshmen Cohen Kerns, Eddie Nevins, and Nick Gardner.
“Cohen was our leading hitter in the fall and Eddie was our leading RBI guy in the fall,” said Szymanski, who can also play Nevins in the infield.
A host of local freshmen are also vying for playing time, including pitcher Brian Tribbett (North Caroline High), pitcher/infielder and Denton resident Seth Williams (Riverdale Baptist), and two James M. Bennett High grads in outfielders Devynn Hancock and Michael Jean Charles.
Notes: Fans may follow the Skipjacks live on “Live Stats” by going to the college’s athletics homepage (www.letsgoskipjacks.com) and clicking on the baseball page and then the schedule page.
Szymanski said his coaches – Scott Milligan, Danny Miller, and Derek Nepert – have “done a great job” preparing the team for the 2016 season.