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Manchester baseball team looking for sustained success

4/10/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

NEW FRANKLIN — Manchester High School baseball head coach Derrick Mauger said this year’s squad features a “good mix” of players with varsity experience and young players who are ready to contribute.

“We have five seniors and some underclassmen with experience. Evan Griffiths and Chandler Stahl are four-year letter-winners. Josh Seidel, Jeff Campbell and Jesse Winter are our other seniors,” the coach said. “Chandler and Evan have a lot of experience and bring a lot to our team. They will anchor the middle of our lineup and be a constant on the mound. Josh Seidel has worked really hard this offseason and will help our rotation and our outfield. Jesse Winter is a consistent presence in the outfield and has worked to improve his hitting. Jeff Campbell has been a surprise this year stepping into our starting catcher role. He has done an incredible job at improving on a position he has barely played in high school.”

Mauger said the team also will look for another strong season from sophomore Mason Nist, who started for the team last year.

“Mason Nist will look to improve upon an outstanding freshman year and hit leadoff for us,” the coach said. “He moves from shortstop to second to make room for Pavin Parks. Pavin will give us a great arm in the rotation, a superb shortstop and a great bat. These two probably make the best middle combo in the league.”

According to Mauger, Manchester will be looking for several underclassmen to make key contributions this season.

“Caleb Johnston is another promising sophomore both as a pitcher and a hitter. He will play many roles this season,” the coach said. “Dan Hymes is another big bat. Like Pavin, he is new to our team.”

Overall, Mauger said he likes what he has seen out of his batters so far.

“We should be a better hitting team than last year,” he stated. “I think we have some work to do, but overall we should be able to produce runs more frequently.”

Pitching is shaping up as the team’s strength.

“We have a great staff,” the coach said. “Evan Griffiths, Pavin Parks, Chandler Stahl, Josh Seidel, Mason Nist and Caleb Johnston will all see a lot of time on the mound.”

In 2013, Manchester ended the year with a 13-13 overall record, and Mauger said his team will look for a more consistent overall performance this season.

“We finished 6-8 in the PAC [Principals Athletic Conference] and struggled after a fast start,” he said. “We were hot — 8-1 to start — then had some cancellations because of weather and lost our momentum. We lost to Tuslaw in the sectional final for the second year in a row.”

Mauger said his team has looked to improve upon last season through pitching and defense.

“We are working to get better every day. We have emphasized the importance of finishing what you start and realizing how you end is more important than how you begin,” he said. “Mentally, I feel that we are not where we need to be, and I want to see growth in that area. If the mental aspect of the game can improve for us, we can be very good.”

Now in his seventh season as the team’s head coach, Mauger said this year’s team has the ability to create a memorable season.

“We can finish in the top of the PAC-7 and make a significant tournament run,” he said. “We have a great pitching staff and a good blend of experience and talent. Defensively, we are very solid, and our offense is improved. The talent is there. It is all about mental growth and belief in the system.”

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