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Cal boasts imposing 1-2 pitching punch

| Thursday, March 31, 2011

There are probably a lot of baseball coaches who wouldn't mind having the biggest problem facing California Area's Don Hartman this season.

Hartman is worried about who will be the No. 3 through No. 5 pitchers on his staff.

Senior righthanders T.D. Conway and Tom Sparrow make up one of Class A's top one-two starting punches.

Conway was 9-0 last year before suffering his lone loss to Elk County Catholic, 3-1 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

Sparrow, meanwhile, went 6-2.

Besides Conway and Sparrow, senior Sam Luketich, a four-year starting catcher, is expected to be one of the WPIAL's premier relievers.

"Luketich has a cannon of an arm," said Hartman, the school's all-time winningest coach in his 14th season with 176 victories.

Experience won't be a question mark for the Trojans, who return seven starters from last year's 21-4 team that lost in the semifinals to Neshannock, 4-2, before advancing to the state playoffs with a 5-4 third place consolation victory over Vincentian Academy.

The infield remains intact with either Conway or Sparrow at first when they're not pitching, senior Mike Britton at second, senior Dakota Conway at shortstop and junior Sean Cotton at third, backed by promising freshman Ron Baron.

Junior Pat Tunney will replace D.J. Martinak in centerfield with senior Adam Miller in left field and versatile Matt Bakewell in right instead of Zac Edmiston, the Trojans' No. 2 hurler a year ago with a 7-1 record.

Dakota Conway, sophomore Brian Fisher, freshman Josh Luko and Baron are the others expected to be on the mound.

Like Luketich, Dakota Conway and Sparrow are four-year starters.

Dakota Conway (.425), Sparrow (.397) and T.D. Conway (.380) were among the top hitters last year.

The Trojans will miss the bats of last year's designated hitter Preston Shaw (.442), Martinak (.417) and Edmiston (.380).

Edmiston also was 6-2 on the mound as California's top lefty.

California is returning to the Greene County section for the first time since 2008. That was when the Trojans missed the playoffs for the last time after finishing fifth with a 7-7 record.

Hartman isn't looking for a repeat when the Trojans open Section 1 play Monday at home with Geibel.

"We have a pretty solid team," he said.

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