Harrison Central baseball coach Justin Clifford is in a really good situation.
The Huskies have 31 out for the program and they are led by five solid seniors in four-year lettermen Nick Pelegreen and Rashaen Mitchell and three-year lettermen Drew Horn, Rhett Kuryn and Ryan Rose.
"We lost three seniors in Hunter Yarnell, Garrett Sproull and Gabe Hyndman who were great kids for our program, but we have a lot of good, talented kids coming back," said Clifford, who is in his second year leading the charges.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED ARE the returning letterwinners for the 2013 Harrison Central baseball team. Front row, from left, are Nick Staten, Brennan Graves, Dalton Rutter, Kalub Mitchell and Austin Kowalski. Back row, from left, are Rhett Kuryn, Drew Horn, Rashaen Mitchell, Nick Pelegreen and Ryan Rose.
In addition, Clifford also has a very flexible lineup.
"In high school baseball you have to play wherever you are needed to play and we have a team of kids who will play wherever we ask them and will do whatever we ask of them," said the coach. "We do have guys who can specialize, but they are also willing and capable of playing other position and that's a nice luxury to have."
Pelegreen, Mitchell, Horn and Rose will lead the mound contingent.
"In baseball when you put one guy on the mound who can dominate, like we have in those four guys, it really helps," said Clifford. "We have a lot of experience back on the mound and that is a great thing to have. Plus, when you have a tall lefty out there, you always give yourself a chance.
"We have a lot of guys who can throw. You are always a pitcher when you play high school baseball.
"We have six guys who can throw out there to give us a chance on any given night."
The Huskies finished 14-14 a year ago after losing to Minerva in the sectional tournament.
"Last year we wanted to get program back to respectability," said Clifford. "We always talk in basketball that it takes a process in any sport you plat. You don't wake up one day and win 20 games.
"Teams like Steubenville, St. Clairsville and Edison have built their programs through the years and we want to get mentioned in that same breath.
"Finishing .500 last year was a huge step for our program and in our confidence. The program has been kind of down and now we feel it is on the upswing. When you have good players, you are a smarter coach and a better program and we have good players.
"These kids have played a lot of baseball. They want bigger and better things."
The Huskies dropped a 1-0 decision at Edison last year in an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 4A semifinal.
The juniors in uniform are Brennan Graves, Nick Staten and Dalton Rutter. The sophomores are Austin Kowalski, Kalub Mitchell and Nate Maykowski and freshmen Dustin Redish, Zach Arbogast, Ian Saho, Giovanni Rocchi, Bryson Porter and Bryce Walrath.
Staten will be behind the plate with Kalub Mitchell his backup.
The starting outfield of, from left, Rose, Rutter and Kalub Mitchell, is back.
Clifford can use Kuryn, Pelegreen and Rashaen Mitchell at first, Kowalski or Horn at second, Redish, Horn or Graves at short and Horn or Pelegreen at third.
Clifford is looking at the success of the football and basketball teams to carry over to the baseball squad.
"We have the same kids playing every sport and that's how it should be, especially at our school," he said. "When you succeed in other sports it carries over and that's why we encourage them to play other sports.
"Our kids will do whatever it takes to win. They have a lot of time invested into baseball. There are no guarantees that investment will lead to wins, but that investment will give us the opportunity to win a lot of games.
"In addition, we have a great staff who takes care of everything."
The complete Harrison Central baseball schedule is below. All games begin at 5 p.m. unless noted.
March 30 - at Weir (DH), Noon; April 1 - at St. Clairsville; April 2 - Oak Glen; April 3 - St. Clairsville; April 5 - Bellaire; April 6 - at Newcomerstown (DH), Noon; April 8 - at Bellaire; April 10 - at Buckeye Local; April 12 - Buckeye Local; April 13 - Edison, Noon; April 15 - Union Local; April 17 - at Union Local; April 19 - at Indian Creek; April 20 - Edison, Noon; April 22 - Indian Creek; April 23 - at Shadyside; April 24 - at Martins Ferry; April 26 - Martins Ferry; May 1 - at Oak Glen; May 3 - Strasburg; May 7 - at Strasburg; May 8 - Shadyside.