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Geibel baseball hoping to improve after 1-win season

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Bill Shirley | Daily Courier
Geibel's Kyle Toth gets ready to scoop up a grounder during a practice Monday, March 10, 2014 at Geibel High School.

With only one win in 2013, it's safe to say the Geibel baseball team has plenty of work to do as it prepares for this season. But despite the struggles of last year, second-year coach Pete Nace said he believes his team is ready to take some steps in the right direction.

“Last year, I was all right with the weather being bad,” he said. “This year, I want the weather to get good because I'm excited to see what we can do.”

The Gators were able to get outside Monday for the first time this season, and as Pete Nace took in the outdoor practice, he expressed reasons for optimism.

“I think we are going to improve from last year, and as a coach, that's all you can ask for,” Pete Nace said. “We had conditioning last year and I had less kids. This year, I saw everybody in our offseason workouts. There's a little more dedication this year.”

Pete Nace also noted that the team has more experience, despite the fact that starters Jon Nace (first base), Jake Ciaccia (pitcher) and Martin Berish (left field) have graduated.

This year's roster features 21 players, many of whom have shown versatility by playing several different positions. Pete Nace and assistant coach Marc Mammarella have spent time working with the players on a number of different aspects involved in playing different spots on the field.

“They seem to be very coachable,” Pete Nace said. “You tell the kids to do something and they do it. They might slip back into a bad habit, but at least they are trying to work at it.”

Geibel's infield could be a strength with juniors Matt Mammarella and Jarek Allen playing shortstop and sophomore Kyle Toth at third. Sophomore Nick Speeney and junior Chris Palya are top candidates to play at second while seniors Brandon Kushnar and Neil Solan, as well as sophomore Eric Plisko and freshman Noah Geary, are capable of playing at first. The team can go four-deep at catcher with senior Patrick Teich, junior Mario Ruggieri, sophomore Jake Nace and freshman Dalton Elcock projected as capable backstops.

Kushnar, Mammarella, Allen, Speeney and Toth could prove to be the top arms in the rotation, with a number of other players capable of chewing up innings as well.

Kushnar, Solan, Teich and Plisko appear to be the top prospects for the outfield.

“The simple math is that we can switch out guys every game,” Pete Nace said. “We're looking for that to help us out.”

Despite strong numbers, Pete Nace knows the Gators have to be better in a lot of areas, especially between the ears.

“We had the domino effect last year,” Pete Nace said. “Something would go bad and then another thing would go bad and then we're in quicksand. We need to have a better mental state.”

According to Speeney, things are already looking up for the program.

“We look a lot better than last year,” Speeney said. “I think we have more talent, but we need to fine-tune and get a little better at everything. We have a lot of people coming back from last year. I think we can compete more this year.”

Pete Nace believes that being competitive can be a more realistic goal this season.

“Of course we want to win more games than we did last year,” Pete Nace said. “We want to try to make the playoffs. We'll shoot for the stars and hopefully reach the moon.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. Reach him at jblack@tribweb.com.

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