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West Shamokin baseball gets roster boost

| Friday, March 22, 2013, 1:21 a.m.
West Shamokin's Anthony Rocco takes batting practice during indoor baseball drills Thursday March 22, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.
Bill Shirley | For The Leader Times
West Shamokin's Anthony Rocco takes batting practice during indoor baseball drills Thursday March 22, 2013, at West Shamokin High School.

With the loss of numerous starters to graduation and the arrival of players from another school, West Shamokin's baseball team will undergo some growing pains this season.

The Wolves will return two starters from last season's team that finished 8-12, including 4-8 in Section 3-AA. Shortstop/pitcher Anthony Rocco, the team's leading hitter, will return for his senior season and joins junior infielder/pitcher Zane Clowser as the team's lone returnees.

One problem West Shamokin experienced last season was a limited roster; the team consisted of only 19 players. With the integration of players from now-defunct Elderton High School, the Wolves will have competition and depth.

“We have a relatively inexperienced team this year. We will have better competition with the addition of the players from Elderton,” said coach Dave Powers, who returns for his 13th season.

Rocco, a three-year letterman, hit .414 last season with seven doubles, one triple and 11 RBI.

The Mt. Aloysius recruit will look for a strong finish to his high school career.

“Every single year since my freshman year, I won the (team) batting title and I raised my batting average every single season,” Rocco said. “I want to get to around a .420 batting average. I want to pass on what I know about the game. I have played a lot of baseball in my time and before moving on to the college level I just want to rub off onto the younger kids.”

West Shamokin started the season 5-4, but once the rigors of section play began, the Wolves struggled, going 3-8 in their last 11 games.

The Wolves will be trying to compete for the fourth — and final — playoff spot in the section, but it will be tough competing against Freeport, Burrell and Deer Lakes, who all finished 9-3 in league play last year.

“The section we play in is pretty tough,” Powers said. “You have to give it your all in each game you play. We have to pick up our game.”

The Wolves lost the services of Derek Fleming, their best pitcher last year, and second baseman Matt Van Horn due to graduation, along with six other seniors.

However, the Wolves will be able to field a junior varsity team as the arrival of the former Elderton players boosted the roster size to upwards of 30 players.

After Rocco and Clowser, West Shamokin will turn to senior infielder/pitcher Travis Anderson and junior infielder/pitcher Dave Ferrier, who are two additions from Elderton.

An off-the-radar player to watch is sophomore third baseman/pitcher Matt Hankey, who could have an extended role.

“It would be hard to say how we will do this year. We lost numerous players from last year's team,” Rocco said. “If we start rallying together as a team and win some games on the road, we will have a good chance to get into the playoffs. I hope we can put it all together with the guys we having coming in and the talent we have.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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