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Mt. Pleasant baseball team looks to build on playoff season

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Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant baseball player Tyler Mellors does some light throwing during a practice Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at Mt. Pleasant. Mellors is expected to be the ace of the staff for the Mt. Pleasant baseball team this season.

Tom Hudzema is in his fifth season as coach of the Mt. Pleasant baseball team. His assistants are Chris Firmstone, Lee Smith, B.J. Mikeska, Dan Myers, Doug Walker, John Myers, Brett Eutsey, John DiPasquale and Shawn Stewart.

The Vikings play at Burrell on Monday.

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Friday, March 29, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

For the Mt. Pleasant baseball team, winning always has been a top priority, and the Vikings again have set their sights high as they begin the 2013 season.

“Here at Mt. Pleasant, section titles are an expectation,” coach Tom Hudzema said. “This is an expectation that was set 20 or 30 years ago. We also want to win a WPIAL championship at some point.”

The Vikings have 21 section titles to their credit and won a WPIAL crown in 1970. Adding to one or both of those lists won't be easy, but Hudzema believes there is a lot to like about this year's team.

“We are an athletic team,” Hudzema said. “This is the most athletic team I've had from top to bottom. In some ways, we are an older team because we have two seniors and nine juniors. But as far as game readiness we're still pretty young. A lot of players were role players on last year's team, but now they have to get used to being out there every game.”

The Vikings lost several key contributors from last year's 13-8 playoff team. Zac Heide and Shane Hertzog have graduated after forming the top of the pitching rotation. But Mt. Pleasant will be in a position to counter those losses as junior Tyler Mellors is set to be the ace of the staff.

“He will be our number one, and he's earned it,” Hudzema said. “He's poised to have a big year.”

Joining Mellors in the rotation will be some combination of senior Joey Paul, junior Dylan Ringer, sophomores Marcus Malara and Nathan Pieszak and freshman Jake Adamrovich.

Around the infield, senior Seth Wright and Adamrovich will handle the duties at first base while Mellors and Pieszak split time at second. Junior Ryan Hudec will be the starting shortstop. Juniors Luke Liprando and Brett Fess will see time at third. Doing the catching will be Mellors or Liprando.

In the outfield, Paul will play in center, and junior Mitch Matlas will be in right. Junior Tyler McElfresh and Fess will play in left.

Hudzema likes the fact that many players know and understand their role on the team.

“They are able to focus on their position rather than worry about where they are going to play,” Hudzema said. “We just have to get to work and get experience.”

The Vikings will be battling in Section 2-AAA and have managed to squeeze in a pair of exhibition games so far. Mt. Pleasant beat Latrobe and lost to Brownsville last week.

As one of two seniors on the roster, Wright is eager to see what the team is capable of accomplishing — especially after having a winning season and qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs last year.

“Right now, we just need to settle in,” Wright said. “We felt the feeling of the playoffs and we definitely want to get back there this year.”

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