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Youth, experience combine for solid roster as Fox Chapel eyes tough section

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Josh Dunlap warms up arm waiting to bat next during practice at Fox Chapel High School.
Erica Hilliard, staff photographer
ESH River v FChap baseball 0402 05.jpg Fox Chapel coach Mike Frank gives signals to the batters during the game at Riverview Park in Oakmont on Friday April 1, 2011. (Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch) 040111 for 040211 VND

The Fox Chapel varsity baseball team posted a 5-15 record last season and graduated 14 seniors from that squad.

Coach Michael Frank is confident that he has the right blend of returning starters and talented newcomers to improve on last year's record.

“We've started out 2-2 in nonsection games so far.,” Frank said. “We have a great mix of experienced players and young guys getting used to varsity baseball.

“As a coaching staff, we promote and encourage competition within the team on a daily basis. Getting used to the expectation of a high level of competition day-in and day-out will help the younger players develop into quality players in a tough section.”

The Foxes return five starters — seniors Joe Palumbo (shortstop), Taylor Huber (center field) and James Serio (left field), along with juniors Connor Duquette (right field) and Chad Bartlett (pitcher).

Senior catcher Nathaniel Olbrich is a returning letter winner.

Newcomers on the varsity this year are seniors Bobby Killian (left field, pitcher), Joe Lisowski (infield, pitcher) Andy Marsh (first base/pitcher) and Jake Gregor (outfield), along with junior Anthony Veltre (first base), sophomores David Brown (first base, pitcher), Daniel Vargo (third base), Josh Dunlap (outfield, pitcher), Greg Yaksich (outfield) and freshmen Zachary Burkhart (catcher), Jacob Pilarski (pitcher/catcher) and Josh Anderson (second base).

“Our team will rely on quality pitching and good defense to win games,” Frank said. “We don't have a lot of power hitters in our lineup, so we need to have everyone contribute with quality, productive at-bats. We are counting on everyone on our team to contribute.

“We are counting on role players to help on a daily basis to help us reach our full potential.”

The Foxes will compete in Section 1-AAAA along with Seneca Valley, North Allegheny, North Hills, Butler and New Castle.

“Our section looks a little different for the first time in awhile,” Frank said. “We lost Shaler and Pine Richland, and picked up New Castle when the WPIAL realigned the sections for this year. Seneca Valley is the two-time defending WPIAL champs, so they would have to be the favorite in our section.

“But, like always, the teams in our section are all highly competitive and very well coached, so every team is somebody to look out for.”

Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or mstewart@tribweb.com.

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