Talented GCC lineup makes coach's decisions difficult
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First-year Greensburg Central Catholic coach Anthony Manley has a problem most coaches in the WPIAL would dream of having.
Due to a deep, talented roster, Manley is struggling to come up with a combination of starting players. It's not because his players aren't stepping up but rather the level of competition is so intense.
“I'm very encouraged,” Manley said. “We have a very strong group of players here. It's been very hard to make a lineup card to this point. We have about 12-13 kids who could all start, but only nine can go on the field. I guess it's a good problem to have.”
The Centurions should be particularly strong on the mound.
Two seniors, Corey Marshall and Sean Bialecki, will anchor a deep, experienced staff — most of whom have varsity experience.
“It's hard to decipher who our ace of the staff would be,” Manley said. “I look at Corey and Sean as 1-A and 1-B. They are both great at locating pitches and throwing strikes. They really both have a bulldog mentality on the mound and will go right after you.”
GCC also will look to sophomore Colin Liberatore, junior Eddie Kilkeary and senior Garrett Brooks to provide quality innings and starts.
“I'm expecting big things from all of them,” Manley said. “This is a very strong group of pitchers and is the strength of our team. They should all have great seasons. They've worked hard to get to this level.”
As for the field and batting, Manley said several positions are up for grabs. There is a lot of competition in the infield and outfield.
Manley expects many Centurians will have productive seasons at the plate, naming Kilkeary (P/OF), Liberatore (P/OF), freshman infielder Tommy Pellis and senior infielder Andrew Lipniskis.
“We have a number of guys capable of putting up a lot of production at the plate,” Manley said. “As far as the defensive side goes, we still are a little shaky in the outfield but have a lot of promising infielders. You have to have hitters in your lineup and work on other things as the season goes along.”
The Centurions figure to be in the thick of the Section 4-AA race. Last season, GCC finished second and lost a first-round WPIAL playoff game to Riverside, 11-4, after compiling a 12-7 overall mark.
“I'm very encouraged to get things started,” Manley said. “I think we definitely have a shot to be in the mix for the section title. I know there are a lot of good teams in front of us and that in this game anybody can beat anybody. We just need to take care of business and play to our ability level.”
GCC, despite the loss of eight graduates, is also setting up its program for future success. The current varsity roster is a blend of all four classes, with four freshmen and four sophomores expected to contribute.
“We're pretty balanced right now as a program,” Manley said. “We have core players in each class and we're definitely going to have some of our freshmen contribute on the varsity level this season.”
Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.
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