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Seniors ready to help Green baseball team reach goals

4/3/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GREEN — The Green High School baseball team finished 6-20 overall last year, but first-year head coach Erich Muzi said that squad featured “a pretty strong junior class.” Those players are now seniors, and the coach said he already likes what he has seen from them.

“Five of the six were starters last year, and all six have varsity experience,” he said. “This year, when I took the job, we kind of went on the mantra of ‘expect success.’ We started 5:45 a.m. workouts. We completely redesigned the way we stretch, the way we condition and the way we do our performance training. In a very short period of time, from when we first had our preseason workouts, all six seniors became the leaders of the group. They didn’t miss one workout and they really committed themselves to what we’re trying to accomplish. They’ve been the cornerstone of the team so far.”

The captains of this year’s team are seniors Brandon Papp and Evan Clark.

“Brandon is a multi-facted player for us. He’s a pitcher, he can play first base and he can play the outfield when we need him to. And he’s probably one of our top hitters. We’re expecting a lot out of him,” the coach said. “And the same is true of Evan Clark. Evan’s kind of one of those quiet leaders for us. He plays outfield exclusively. He probably has our hottest bat right now in the offseason. He’s hitting the ball really well.”

Another key senior this season, Muzi said, is Austin Ahbe.

“He started last year in centerfield and will probably be our three or four hitter in the lineup,” the coach said. “He’s someone else we’re expecting a lot from and who we are going to be relying on. He is highly respected among his classmates and teammates. He actually won a state championship in hockey for a club team this past winter, so he kind of knows what it takes to win.”

Rounding out the senior class for Green are Brendan Elliott, Cody Conley and Lucas Popovich.

“I think expectations are pretty high for what we, as a ball club, expect from them,” Muzi said. “Internally, we’re expecting a lot from all of our seniors. We are looking for them to continue to be leaders, to set good examples, to work hard and to ultimately produce on the field.”

The team also will be counting on junior shortstop/pitcher Dylan Ramey and sophomore pitcher Anthony Snyder to make major contributions this season, Muzi said.

“Dylan has a very strong bat. He played last year until he injured his knee. He came back later in the year. This is his first full year, and he’s getting some looks from some area colleges. We’re expecting good things from him,” the coach said. “Anthony pitched last year as a freshman, and this year I think he’s going to have to be one of our league starters. For us, he’s going to have to go out there and win that second league game behind Cody.”

Muzi, who was an assistant coach at Green from 2000 through 2008, said external expectations for the Bulldogs aren’t high yet, but the team has an opportunity and the ability to change that.

“I think, right now, we’re the underdogs,” he said. “We’re a team coming off a 6-20 season, so I don’t think there is a lot in the way of expectations for us. But both our junior varsity and varsity teams have the very realistic goals of winning the Suburban League. That’s been our focus, and I think it’s realistic in so far that the Suburban League has a lot of parity. I think that’s a good goal for us, and from there on out, we’ll see what happens.”

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