If a baseball team's success is predicated on it's pitching, then Barnesville might be in for a good season.
Veteran Shamrocks skipper D. J. Butler sees his hurlers as a strength of a squad that is filled with talent up and down the roster.
''We have a lot of guys who can step to the mound and throw strikes and compete,'' said Butler, who boasts a 100-58 mark in seven seasons at Barnesville. ''All the credit goes to (pitching coach) Joel Atkinson.''
PICTURED ARE the key returnees for the Barnesville baseball team. Kneeling, from left, are Collin Wilson, Jacob Keiser, Mitchell Wells, Kaleb Smolira, Bret Crum and Justin Grear. Standing, from left, are Chase Huntsman, Auston Hannahs, David Brown, David Stewart and Cory Rush.
The Shamrocks have two three-game winners back in the fold - senior Auston Hannahs and junior Mitchell Wells.
Hannahs compiled a 1.98 ERA, while Wells' was 2.31.
Senior David Stewart was 2-0 with a 3.98 ERA and three saves, while classmate Chase Huntsman (who can also play first) paced the team in appearances. David Brown is another senior candidate. Junior Justin Grear had a 2.62 ERA in limited appearances.
Butler will also be able to call upon the arms of sophomores Joey Burkhart (OF), Bret Crum (3B), Sonny Fluharty (OF), Jacob Keiser (OF-2B) and Cade Leasure (3B). Keiser started all 26 games last season, while Crum played in 20 games as a DH or PH.
''We will have some guys playing at the varsity level for the first time in very key positions, including several that will see time on the mound,'' Butler said.
Brown, a shortstop, leads the senior class.
The three-time letterwinner batted .423 with 36 hits and 25 RBI en route to second-team all-district and EOBL All-Star honors.
Hannahs, also a shortstop, earned first-team all-district, EOBL and all-OVAC accolades after batting .337 with 28 hits and 25 runs.
Other seniors in the mix are Chase Mankin, who missed last season, and Cory Rush, who appeared mostly as a pinch runner last season.
Wells, a two-time letterwinner, also plays first. He batted .267 last season and earned second-team all-district and EOBL honors.
Aaron Kerner (OF), Brady Rockwell (2B), Chris Toohey (OF) and Collin Wilson (OF-2B-C) are the Shamrocks' other juniors. Wilson paced the team in sacrifices last year.
Jacob Carpenter (2B), Darrien Decker (C) and Logan Schultz (1B-DH) round out a promising sophomore class.
''We must improve defensively to have the success that we want this season,'' Butler said. ''We must also improve our situational hitting and not leave guys on base.''
Nathan Clark, Hunter George, Seth Gordon, Colby Haney, Kaelan Hannahs, Butch Holskey, Brice Mercer, Gaetan Sinisgalli and Brady Trehern are the freshman on the roster.
''We have some very talented younger players who will be competing for time on the varsity level, including several freshmen,'' Butler noted.
Lost to graduation were Allen Bailes, Brandon Burkhart, Dylan MacMillan and Colton Pritchard.
There have been a few tweaks to Barnesville's schedule this season.
Philo has been added, along with Edison (single game) and Caldwell (second game).
The annual Diamond Classic will also include Monroe Central, Wheeling Central and West Muskingum.
The Shamrocks will not be able to play their home games at Memorial Park because of work being done on the field. The team is expected to play its entire home schedule, including the Shamrock Diamond Classic, at a field on State Route 800 entering the town. The team will return to the Memorial Park Diamond for the entire 2015 campaign.
Butler is also assisted by Rich Mercer (infield-outfield), Jeff Miller (JV-outfield), Randy Stephen (hitting) and Devin Stephen (catching).
Barnesville's schedule is as follows.
March 31 - Linsly; April 2 - at Linsly; April 4 - at Shenandoah, 4:30 p.m.; April 5 - at Bellaire (DH), Noon; April 8 - at Caldwell; April 9 - at Shadyside; April 12 - Buckeye Trail (DH), 10 a.m.; April 14 - at River; April 15 - at Martins Ferry; April 16 - River; April 17 - Shadyside; April 19 - Shamrock Diamond Classic vs. Monroe Central; April 21 - Bridgeport, 4:30 p.m.; April 22 - Martins Ferry, 4:30 p.m.; April 23 - at Bridgeport, 6:30 p.m.; April 24 - at Philo; April 26 - OVAC Semifinals; April 28 - Caldwell; April 30 - at Union Local; May 2 - OVAC Finals; May 5 - Union Local; May 6 - at St. Clairsville; May 8 - at Edison; May 9 - Shenandoah