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Vikings look to compete at high level in 2003

| Saturday, March 15, 2003

The Mount Pleasant baseball team features eight seniors this season, but head coach Dennis Miscik said the Vikings are still a young team.

"This could be the youngest team I've had in my 19 years here," Miscik said, noting that Mount Pleasant also counts 12 juniors and 14 sophomores on its roster. "We have some seniors, we have some juniors, and we have some sophomores that will be playing, and we'll probably have about a third of each."

Although the team has a fairly large group of seniors, Miscik said Rob Chlebowski, Kris Mott and Tom Stanek are the only upperclassmen who are returning starters. Chlebowski and Mott will split time between the outfield and the mound, with Stanek set to man second base.

Like the seniors, Miscik said Mount Pleasant's group of juniors is large but limited in experience. Catcher Jeff Roebuck played as a sophomore, and Miscik said, "the other junior that's going to be playing this year is Pat Martz."

Martz will play in center field. Matt Wadsworth will see varsity time at first base or behind the plate. Right-handed pitcher Steve Tylka, who went 2-0 last season, rejoins the Vikings this year, and right-hander Andy Urban rounds out the varsity team's juniors.

"Five sophomores will be on the varsity team, and that's the largest amount I've had here," Miscik said.

Varsity sophomores are Tony Capozzi (shortstop), Mike Clark (outfield), Mike Lingenfield (third base), Scott Szelong (outfield/designated hitter) and Rob Patula (first base/pitcher).

Miscik said Mount Pleasant has 34 players in all, split evenly between the varsity and junior varsity squads. That could change, though, as the season progresses.

"Some of the kids on the junior varsity team who perform well will be brought up throughout the year," he said.

Miscik said although the Vikings haven't had many practices outdoors, he is pleased with what he's seen so far from last year's Section 5-AA runners-up.

"I like how things have been going," he said. "The kids have been working very hard. (Friday was) only their third day on the field, and they're doing a very good job. They're working hard, and their attitudes have been very good. I expect this team to be competitive and battle every team we play and have success."

How much success Mount Pleasant enjoys will depend, as usual, on the quality of its pitching staff.

"That's normally the case, and this year, there's no doubt that that's the case," Miscik said.

Miscik said one Viking opponent which returns "two or three good pitchers", along with several other starters, is Yough.

"Yough is going to be very good," he said. "Derry returns some players. Southmoreland has Shane Datz, and we know we'll see him twice. Belle Vernon has been good for the last three or four years."

Throw East Allegheny and Elizabeth Forward into the mix, and Miscik said Mount Pleasant is in a "well-balanced, competitive section. Everybody will be after everybody."

According to Miscik, the Vikings should be able to hold their own.

"I think they're going to fight real hard because that's what they know," he said.

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