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Coventry baseball team led by strong pitching

3/28/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — Coventry High School baseball head coach Wilmer Caraballo said the team’s biggest strength this season is its pitching staff.

“We’ve been working with our pitchers, and I think we have three of the best pitchers in the league,” he said. “We’ve been working to improve our defense, because if you have good pitching and you have good defense, you can win a lot of close games.”

The team’s ace, Caraballo said, is senior Jake Mazak.

“He’s a team player and one of the team’s leaders,” the coach said. “He’s a really good pitcher. He throws around 83 or 84 mph, and his main pitch is the breaking pitch. I think he can pitch in Division II or III in college.”

Caraballo said Mazak is a versatile player.

“Last year, Jake hit over .350,” he stated. “He catches and he pitches, and this year he might have a little bit of a different role, because our team is different than in years before. We’re going to have to move guys around, and Jake is going to be able to catch, pitch and play left field — all three positions at different times.”

The team’s No. 2 pitcher is junior Devin Elekes, who is another versatile player.

“With Devin, you’re talking about a guy who plays shortstop, pitches and also can play third base,” the coach said. “He throws between 85 and 87 mph with a good knuckle curveball and a good changeup. He’s my No. 2 starter, but he’s also going to play the role of closer. Last year, he hit .335 and his record was 3-4 with four saves. He’s a good player for us.”

The team’s other top pitcher is senior Matt Ketler.

“He has a good fastball and a good breaking pitch, but the main thing about him is that he keeps the ball down at the knees,” Caraballo said. “The whole game, that’s the way he pitches. He keeps the ball low, so our defense will be big when he pitches. There will be a lot of ground balls. He’s not a strikeout pitcher, but he locates the ball well.”

Caraballo said other key seniors include centerfielder Andrew Agner, infielder John Morrison and first baseman Vince Woicehovich.

“This is a good senior class,” the coach said. “They’ve been with me the last four years. They’re outstanding kids, with good behavior, good grades and good sportsmanship.”

According to Caraballo, the team has been working at cutting down on strikeouts.

“We’ve been working with the kids on trying to put the ball more into play,” he noted.

Caraballo is in his eighth year with the team. Last year, he said they finished 14-12 overall and 7-7 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.

The team’s primary goal this season, the coach said, is to make it to the playoffs.

“I want to win at districts,” he said. “I think with our three pitchers, if we can score five runs per game we should be able to come out on top in any game. I think we’re going to be at the top of the league this year. I think our record will speak for itself — we should win 15 games or maybe more. All I ask from the kids is that they give me 100 percent, and everything will take care of itself. I think the league needs to watch out for Coventry this year.”

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