Berkshire opens the 2018 season with a young roster but the Badgers do have plenty of talent.
Second-year head coach Brian Hiscox is excited about his team’s potential but he knows this youthful group will experience some growing pains.
“We really don’t know what to expect this season,” Hiscox said. “It is virtually a new team after graduating 11 seniors and eight starters. We are really excited about the potential that some of our new players possess. We are much younger than we have been in the last few years, but there are a lot of baseball players in the underclass ranks. Most of our guys are new to varsity level baseball and they are hungry and excited to show that they can play at this level.”
The Badgers, who finished 8-14 overall and 6-6 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division last spring, return just one starter and four lettermen from a year ago.
Just two seniors appear in the projected starting lineup including Joe Detweiler, who will play first base and pitch, and third baseman Jack Squire.
Hiscox will lean on those seniors to provide leadership to the younger players and Detweiler will carry an extra burden as the No. 1 pitcher.
“Joe Detweiler is one of our senior leaders,” Hiscox said. “He will be a middle of the order type of bat and a pitcher that we will rely on to lead us throughout this season.”
Berkshire’s lineup does include a handful of juniors.
Bobby Czekaj will catch and pitch, Sam Roach will split time at second base and left field, Forrest Kuchling will play either left or center field and pitch, Mike Brilla will split time in center and Jacob Smetana will play right field.
Sophomore Peter Brent will see time at first base.
“Brent has put in a ton of offseason work in the batting cage and in the weight room to increase his power potential,” Hiscox said. “It is showing so far in practice as the ball consistently jumps off of his bat in BP.”
Sophomore Joe Barcikoski will play second and shortstop and he’ll also see time on the mound.
“Barcikoski is one of our best defensive players,” Hiscox said. “He can play center field, shortstop, second base, and catcher, all positions up the middle of the field where defense is king. He also is a top of the order hitter who hopefully can set the table for our 3-4-5 guys.”
Freshman Jacob Brown also will see time at shortstop and pitch.
While Berkshire is gaining experience in the early part of the season, the Badgers are going to take advantage of their strengths.
“Team speed and defense I think are two of our bigger strengths this year,” Hiscox said. “Guys know what they need to do to make plays defensively and our team speed is hopefully going to show both offensively and defensively this season. We need to shorten the learning curve. Our young players have to be able to make adjustments early in the season to the upper level of competition.”