(One In A Series)
WESTMORELAND — Veteran Westmoreland baseball coach Paul Engelhart is hoping a positive attitude will help his young team pick up a few extra victories this season.
“I’m pretty excited about this group,” Engelhart said. “I know they’re very young — we only have five seniors on the team — and no juniors in the whole program, varsity or JV...But I’ve been doing this for seven years now, and these kids in the last two weeks have shown more hunger than I’ve seen in the past few years. They have a lot more passion and are committed to working hard.”
Last season, Westmoreland went 6-7 in the league and 7-9 overall in the Center State Conference Division III, advancing to the first round of the sectionals.
Engelhart said he did lose some good players to graduation, among them Justin Matteson, a four-year player for Engelhart who pitched anywhere from 40-50 innings every year and who is now playing for Mohawk Vally Community College. Center fielder Conner Mirasola, shortstop Mike Sweeney, outfielder Nik Hameister and catcher Cameron Rothdiener have also graduated.
Five players are returning, starting with Dylan Breen a senior left-handed pitcher and first baseman who’ll be the Bulldogs No. 1 pitcher. Also back are senior co-captain Andrew Scalise, who plays third base, catches and pitches, and senior co-captain Zack St. Peter, who plays shortstop and can also pitch. Senior Mike Alloggio will be playing outfield but could also see some time on the mound, and freshman Caleb Miller is also back and looks to be the starting catcher.
Up from JV to round out the roster are freshman pitcher-outfielder Josh Suber, senior outfielder Nilan Bielby, sophomore utilityman Tom Pick, sophomore pitcher-third baseman Donato Valenzano, sophomore outfielder Austin Millington, sophomore pitcher Joe Lynch, junior pitcher-outfielder Sam Huyck, and sophomore outfielder Rich Holmes.
Engelhart is postive, but realistic about his team’s season. He said it’s been nice to see, to say the least, concerning his team’s enthusiasm.
“I think there’s a bright future for this program down the road,” Engelhart said.
“We’ll probably take some lumps this year, probably play around .500, we might be able to do a little better than that. It depends on our defense.
“We have some good young baseball prospects coming up and it’s exciting to get some real baseball guys in here that are going to work hard and play out the season.”