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Sports

Firestone baseball team keyed by speed, hitting

3/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

WEST AKRON — First-year head coach Aaron DeBord said the Firestone High School baseball team will have a new look in 2013.

“This season, we have a new coaching staff and a lot of new starters,” he stated. “We are taking strides to improve our team defense, and by limiting our mistakes, we will be more competitive against top competition. I feel that even though we are young, we have a very solid team and we expect to have a bounce-back season.”

In 2012, Firestone finished 13-15 overall and 10-3 in league play.

“Last season, the team had an early exit in the playoffs and lost to Ellet in the City Series championship,” DeBord said.

Ten seniors graduated from that team, and DeBord said the 2013 squad will “be extremely young — especially on the mound.”

“We are returning five varsity players, including three starting players: Drew Fite (shortstop), Tyler Edgerson (outfielder) and Tom Lehman (catcher),” he stated. “We will be relying on a lot of inexperienced talent to win games this season, but I’m very pleased to have my returning players be key guys up the middle and think they will provide us with the leadership we need to contend right away.”

In addition to Fite, Edgerson and Lehman, Firestone’s senior class includes Austin Williams (third base and outfield) and Nick White (first base, catcher and pitcher).

“This group has really impressed me and my coaching staff,” DeBord said. “Since we started practice, they have taken charge and been the type of leaders every coach hopes for.”

DeBord said he has been “very impressed” with what he has seen from his team at the plate.

“Our strengths will be our team speed and our hitting. We feel like we are going to score a lot of runs,” he said. “I plan to use our team’s combination of speed, athleticism and ability to put the bat on the ball to put the pressure on opposing teams. Seniors Tyler Edgerson and Tom Lehman should be the anchors of our lineup, with juniors Jacob Eberly and Ben Hayes providing some pop from in the middle of the order.”

As far as pitching, DeBord said his staff will be “very young and inexperienced” overall.

“I will be relying heavily on juniors Jacob Eberly and Robert Hart, as well as sophomore Alex Cole to lead our staff,” he stated. “All three lack experience — Jacob is coming off knee surgery, and Robert and Alex played JV [junior varsity] last season — but have a ton of upside. We are also looking to Tyler Edgerson, Austin Williams and Nick White to step up and win some ball games.”

DeBord said he is looking for varsity newcomers Richard Burroughs (pitcher and outfielder), Jacob Eberly (second base and pitcher) and Robert Hart (infielder and pitcher) to “step in and have an immediate impact” this season.

“All three have shown promise to give us quality innings on the hill and fill holes in our everyday lineup,” he said.

Firestone’s season opens March 30 with a three-way double header at Stow-Munroe Falls High School against Walsh Jesuit High School and Stow-Munroe Falls starting at 10 a.m.

“We hope to start fast out of the gate and show people that Firestone baseball is looking to win more than a City Series championship,” DeBord said. “The goals I have for the team this season are to win 20 games, to win the City Series championship and to advance out of our district.”

DeBord is in his first season as the varsity coach at Firestone after spending the previous four years as an assistant at Nordonia High School. His varsity assistant coach is Andrew Payne, and the varsity pitching coach is Eric Browne. The junior varsity head coach is Dillon Rogers, and his assistant is Tom Charles. Also helping the staff is volunteer assistant Jordan Wilhite.

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