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Matush: Hounds looking for more

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Jim Ference | The Valley Indepndent
Monessen's Head Baseball Coach Bill Matush.
Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Charleroi's Zachary Nabozny slides into home as Monessen's catcher Tyler Shash tags him out at the plate, in the bottom of the 3rd inning. At Vets Field in Charleroi. On April 1,2013. Charleroi won the non-section game, 6-2. See story in the Sports Digest on Page 2B.

Coming off of their first playoff appearance in 26 years, can the Monessen Greyhounds' baseball team top its season from a year ago?

If you ask 12th-year coach Bill Matush, the Greyhounds are back for more.

“This season is probably the highest expectations I have ever had for one of our teams,” he said. “This is a super group of kids and I told the team that for the first time in 12 years, I think that we can beat everyone we play.”

It is understandable that Matush feels this way when you consider that he returns nine of the 10 starters he had a year ago from his team that lost in the first round of the Class A playoffs to eventual WPIAL runner-up, Our Lady of Sacred Heart.

The Hounds return two all-section players in juniors Josh Kucmeroski and Noah Rullo.

Kucmeroski is the shortstop and will also pitch while Rullo will be in the outfield.

Monessen has seven seniors who will be on the field, and when asked about leadership, Matush did not hesitate.

“With seven seniors, leadership is not a problem,” he said. “These guys have been there before.”

The seniors returning with experience include catcher Tyler Shash, first baseman Jonathan Kravets, second baseman Nate Moon, third baseman Justice Rawlins, and outfielder Luke Doptis.

Rullo, Doptis, Justice Tartt, and Dominic Zboyovsky will all see time in the outfield.

Sophomore Brandon Lenhart will also play third opposite of Rawlins.

If one is pitching, the other will be at the hot corner.

Kravets and Kucmeroski will also get some innings on the mound.

Another player that Matush mentioned and is high on is freshman Justice Rice.

“Justice doesn't really have a set position, but he will be getting playing time somewhere,” Matush said. “He just started coming around.

“I wish we had him all winter.”

As far as a key for a successful season, Matush didn't hesitate.

“If we can score four or five runs a game, we will be in pretty good shape,” he said. “Our pitching and defense will be our strong points, but we have to score some runs.”

Monessen is at Chartiers-Houston Friday and at Jefferson-Morgan Saturday in exhibition games.

In fact, Monessen has eight exhibition games scheduled before it opens up section play at Bishop Canevin on April 4.

“I'm not sure if we will get them all in because of the weather, but it will give us time to get things going headed into section play,” Matush said.

Monessen is in Section 2-A along with Bishop Canevin, Clairton, Frazier, Geibel, and perennial power Serra.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer Trib Total Media.

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