Times Leader Sports Writer
Since assuming the head coaching post at Bridgeport High two seasons ago, Steve Wojcik has guided the Bulldogs to 26 wins.
Can the 2009 Pups again register double digit victory production? Don’t bet against it.
Despite the loss of five senior starters, Wojcik is reasonably optimistic this spring’s contingent can continue to prosper.
“We feel we play a schedule we can compete with,’ said Wojcik, a one-time left-handed throwing New York Mets’ prospect.
“We’re mostly going up against schools our size but we’re also facing some high caliber opposition in the Eastern Ohio Baseball League. That’s a good balance and one we’re comfortable with.”
Wojcik stresses the recipe for success is the Bulldogs’ ability to come of age and generate team chemistry.
“Our players must dedicate themselves to making daily improvement and they must battle every opponent to the last out,” he contends.
“Making the routine play and throwing strikes are also critical keys to our success. We need our returning frontliners to show the way and display strong leadership skills.”
Wojcik acknowledged graduation casualties were costly.
“In Ryan Kreiter, we lost one of the valley’s top catchers,” said Wojcik of the Muskingum College signee. Also departed is Tim Smith (99 career hits), Bryan Skoff, Zach Smith and Josh Baxter.
The ‘09 senior class has three-year letterman Justin Gregorcic, an EOBL all-star who logged a 5-3 mound mark with a 3.50 ERA in 2008.
Senior Rex Ickler, a two-time letterman will also see hill duty along with juniors C. J. Foose (2-1, 2.44 ERA) and Jimmy Gessler.
Sophomore Darrick Phillips and freshmen Chris Pritchett and Matt Gregorcic can also be called on for mound duty.
Wojcik is seeking a replacement behind the dish for Kreiter among sophomores Kyle Digiandominico and Alex Oliver along with frosh hopefuls Collin Dvoracek and Keith Grimmett.
In the Bulldogs’ infield, senior Kyle Cash is at third base after logging a .935 fielding percentage a season ago.
When not on the mound, Gregorcic will play shortstop and look to improve on last spring’s .338 batting average.
Foose is another capable shortstop. He hit .269 as a sophomore. Gessler is expected to man second base. Sophomores William Davenport and Ryan Smith are also vying.
Among contenders at first base are Phillips, Pritchett and Matt Gregorcic.
Ickler and Foose figure to be outfield mainstays with an array of contenders including seniors Mike Marshall and Justin Saaverdra; junior C.J. Baker; sophomore Nathan Dober in addition to Phillips and Smith and freshmen Austin Watkins, Austin Cordery, Pritchett and Matt Gregorcic.
“Last season’s 6-9 hitters will convert to 1-5 this spring,” Wojcik reports. “As our younger kids develop some confidence, we like our chances to compete with teams on our schedule.”
Bridgeport opens at home, Monday, Mar. 30 when St. John Central invades.
Wojcik’s veteran coaching staff includes: Tom Pasco and former Bulldogs Scott Hammerquist and Milton Turley.
The schedule is as follows:
March 30 St. John Central
March 31 Paden City
April 1 at St. John Central
April 3 at River
April 4 Conotton Valley (2), noon
April 6 River
April 7 at Weirton Madonna
April 8 Linsly
April 11 at Cameron (2), noon
April 13 at Linsly
April 15 Shadyside
April 17 at Shadyside
April 18 Zanesville Rosecrans (2), noon
April 20 Barnesville
April 22 at Barnesville
April 28 at Paden City
April 29 at Bishop Donahue
April 30 Weirton Madonna
May 5 Bishop Donahue
May 6 at Toronto
T-L Photo/KIM NORTH
PICTURED are the key returnees for the Bridgeport baseball team. Front row, from left, are C.J. Foose and Jimmy Gessler. Back row, from left, are Mike Marshall, Rex Ickler, Justin Gregorcic and Kyle Cash.