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2005 high school baseball players to watch

| Saturday, March 26, 2005

Class AAAA

Players to watch

Jordan Karcher, sr., 1B/RHP, Shaler; Mike Juliano, sr., 1B, North Allegheny; Kris McDonough, jr., C, Upper St. Clair; Brian Schwartzbauer, sr., SS/RHP, Shaler; Jeff Vincent, sr., SS, Franklin Regional

Outlook -- This is the first year with Class AAAA baseball, and No. 1 Shaler and No. 2 North Allegheny are the teams to beat. They have at least six Division I players between them, and will fight for supremacy in Section 1-AAAA. The rest of the section is fighting for the third playoff spot. No. 3 Central Catholic boasts its best team in years, led by senior P Joe Cox. No. 5 Upper St. Clair welcomes back McDonough, who missed last season with an injury.

Class AAA

Players to watch

Brad Bothell, sr., C, Kittanning; Sean Holliday, sr., LHP, Moon; Greg Marshall, sr., RHP, West Allegheny; John Navage, sr., RHP, Blackhawk; Tyler Scruggs, jr., C, South Park

Outlook -- Top-ranked Montour brings back eight starters from its first section champion in 15 years, led by senior P Dan Vietmeier and sophomore SS Bryce Pfeuffer. The Spartans will be challenged by No. 4 West Allegheny, which returns Marshall and welcomes 6-foot-4, 200-pound P/SS Zak Sinclair, one of the state's top freshmen. Section 1 features a pair of defending WPIAL champions (Pine-Richland and Blackhawk) and 2003 PIAA champion (Ellwood City).

Class AA

Players to watch

Aaron Brown, jr., RHP/CF, Burrell; Corey Collins, so., LHP/OF, Laurel; Sam DiMatteo, sr., C, Center; Tony Greco, sr., RHP, New Brighton; Christian Valeriano, jr., LHP/OF, Riverside

Outlook -- The scales are balanced in the new-look Class AA, with some top programs (Blackhawk, South Park) moving up to Triple-A. Seven of the 17 playoff teams from last year are gone. No. 1 Washington returns the bulk of last year's WPIAL runner-up and gets the edge in the most balanced class. No. 2 Riverside lost just one starter from last year's surprise PIAA semifinalist. No. 5 New Brighton could go far with Greco and senior LHP Chase McNutt.

Class A

Players to watch

Jared Lapkowicz, sr., LHP/1B, Carmichaels; Jeff Lapkowicz, jr., C, Carmichaels; Andy McIlvaine, sr., LHP/1B, Chartiers-Houston; Dan Novak, sr., SS/P, Chartiers-Houston; Anthony Trapuzzano, sr., RHP, Bishop Canevin

Outlook -- Carmichaels returns the Lapkowicz brothers from last year's WPIAL Class A runner-up. The Mighty Mikes should march through Section 1. The best matchup could be Trapuzzano-led Bishop Canevin and Novak-led Chartiers-Houston in Section 2. Novak, a Liberty recruit, and McIlVaine form an elite pitching rotation.

City League

Players to watch

Nate Fillip, sr., P, Brashear; Matt Stanziano, sr., INF, Brashear; Chris Mesko, sr., C, Allderdice

Outlook -- Brashear returns seven starters from last year's City League champion, led by Fillip, St. Vincent's signee Stanziano and C Mitch Hahne. The Bulls have experience and deep pitching. Allderdice looks capable of snapping the school's nine-year baseball title drought.

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