Ligonier baseball team prepares for season

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

The Ligonier Valley High School baseball team takes the diamond Monday to open the 2014 season when they play host to Heritage Conference rival Blairsville.

Though manager John Jones admitted that the Wildcats would be one of the toughest opponents of the year, he said the Rams are chomping at the bit to get back to action.

“I won't have to do too many motivational talks to the boys to get them up for that game,” Jones commented. “They have had that one circled on the calendar. They enjoy playing Blairsville. It's a good rivalry that we have.”

The Rams have eight seniors on the team this year: Andrew Schultz, Nick Payne, Jake Nemeth, Alex Tutino, Brent Stiles, Oliver Hall, Jack Horrell and Matt Ebberts.

Juniors include Luke Ferlin, Brent Henderson, Max Caldwell, Rick Ross, Nick Adams, Jordan Jones, Sam Marsh and Victor Sansing.

The sophomores are Brian Custer, Jake Schott, Austin Williams, Phil Cornell, Al Vigliotti, Thomas Sibel, Dominic Jester, Cole Luciani and Alex Britton, who will be the team's stat keeper.

Finally, joining the team for their first year as Rams, Wyatt Stouffer, Hunter Mills, Brenden Lindberger, Austin Tutino, Garrett Custer, Trent Hepner, Sheldon Kiser and Nick Nepa make up the freshman.

Last season Ligonier Valley made it to the semi-final round of the District 6 Championship and finished with a record of 17-4, the highest number of wins in the team's history. Jones hopes to be competitive in the conference again this year and earn a chance to return to the playoffs.

“We always play on the same principles; we want to play good defense and we want to pitch real well. That is our bedrock and that is what we will have to rely on again this year,” Jones said. “We hit the ball real well last year as a team, but our clutch hitting was a little bit suspect at times and I think that is something we really need to work on.”

Jones said his up and coming players are talented and have been waiting in the wings for this chance to assume the responsibility. “When you lose a lot of core guys like we did it is kind of an uneasy time, because you don't know what to expect,” Jones explained. “But by the same token, it's like starting a brand new book. There is always that element of surprise, so to speak. You always have a couple of kids that step up that you didn't think were there.”

Jones added that his seniors know what they need to do and the process will involve learning how best to go about their duties in the ways that most benefit the team.

Peter Turcik is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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