Niagara Gazette —
After graduating seven seniors last season, there are as many questions as there are answers for this year's Lewiston-Porter baseball team.
With only four returning seniors and rain-limited early-season game experience, head coach Mark Waple will spend plenty of time tinkering with his lineups.
Waple, though, said that isn't a bad thing.
"We're going to be young," Waple said, "but we're not inexperienced. We had some sophomores who're coming back as juniors. It's not like we're depleted."
Leading the way for the Lancers, who lost key players in James Stuart and Ben Casale, will be senior pitcher Josh Garrison, who's been on the team for three years.
"He's a big kid with a lot of mound experience," Waple said. "He's played a lot of summer ball and traveled around various parts of the country taking on good competition."
Following Garrison on the hill will be Pat Knapp, who saw a bit of varsity mound action last season, and Michael Mokhiber. Waple said he's also working to get players who'd pitched at the junior varsity level, such as Zach Dowsey, Antonio Guerucci, Jordan Willard and Jake Rizzo, on the mound. Sophomore Josh Koepsell, called up from JV, will also likely get some mound time.
The lineup, like the rotation, is a work in progress.
"Our pitchers are also position players, so our lineup might be different every game," Waple said. "I don't anticipate we'll be set at any position.
"We're still experimenting with the order. I kind of hoped an aggressive non-league schedule would provide some of the young kids with experience and give me a bit of a barometer of where everyone was at, but the weather hasn't cooperated."
Waple said Dowsey, who led off all of last season, will do the same this year. Rizzo, a fellow middle infielder, will bat second, followed by Willard and Joe Scirto, who'll serve the role of designated hitter while he makes his way back from injury.
Christian Snell returns to start at first base for the second straight season, while Mokhiber, Buerucci, Matt Schiavi and Justin Nichols will compete for time in the outfield.
Despite his roster's relative lack of experience and the unsettled nature of his lineup, Waple made it clear that his team will be co this season.
"I wouldn't bring a young guy up if I didn't think they were capable," he said. "These kids are all travel players, they've seen varsity arms before and they should be able to come in and compete right away."Follow Gazette sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.