Baseball: Pitching key to success for Potomac State in 2019
Catamounts open season Saturday in South Carolina
By Roy Harper- Potomac State College
Keyser, WV- While the calendar still reads it's winter the Potomac State Baseball team has its sight set on spring.
The 2019 Catamounts were set to open the season this weekend with three games in Louisburg, NC, however those games were cancelled due to weather. So, instead PSC will travel to Sumter, SC for an invitational tournament.
"We're excited to kick off the season," said Potomac State Head Coach Doug Little, who is set to begin his 22nd year at the helm.
"it is revitalizing to think about playing games again, especially in light of this brutal winter weather-wise."
The Catamounts are coming off an impressive 35-11 record season a year ago. If they intend to repeat such success they will look to their pitching staff to set the tone.
"It all starts on the mound," says Little. "We have some experienced arms that can hopefully get us deep into games."
The returners are highlighted by three sophomores who won a combined 14 games a year ago.
Sophomore Colt Webb headlines the trio as the Berryville, VA native went 7-3 last season in nine starts. In 43 2/3 innings pitched he struck out 60 and walked just 17.
"Colt is a frontline starter, he has great stuff, good makeup and wants to ball in big games," said Little. "He is primed to have a great year, and we will need him to lead the way."
Schamp, from Marietta, OH was 4-2 a year ago with 55K's and 16 walks in 38 1/3 innings pitched and an ERA of 3.99.
"Brandon had moments of greatness a year ago and really knows how to pitch. He is unfazed by any situation and we have high expectations for him this spring."
Whiteman will work as both a starter and reliever for the Catamounts. A year ago, the Ridgeley, WV native went 3-2 and 51 strikeouts in 30 innings pitched.
"Brett has all the tools to be really good this year," Little added. "He has a bulldog mentality, has worked hard and we are counting on him for big things this year."
Newcomers Brandon Schaeffer, (Auburn, PA) and Tyler Bradford, (Beverly, OH) will also be depended on to eat up quality innings in 2019. The pair of south-paws both had a great fall season according to Little.
"I would like to have their futures," he said.
"We have more lefty's this year than we've ever had," said Little. "We hope that translates to some success, but no matter which hand they throw with we need a group of guys who can throw strikes and get outs."
Offensively the Catamounts lost seven of their nine hitters from a year ago leaving PSC with an inexperienced core of position players. Three of those players lost are now starting at NCAA Division 1 schools, (Alex Taylor-VCU, Dominic Peroni-Moorhead State and Mitchell Henshaw-St. Johns).
"If it's not, it's close to the most we've lost from one year to the next," said Little. "It will require some guys to grow up very quickly and take advantage of the opportunity."
The two returners will help solidify the Catamounts defense up the middle.
Austin Chavis returns to play shortstop again this year, after playing in 42 of 46 games a year ago. The Bel Air, MD native hit .305 with 31 runs batted in and 3 home runs as a freshman.
"Austin brings some experience to our lineup, he is a leader, a hard worker and solid on defense and will hit in the middle of our lineup."
Manning centerfield will be Virginia Beach, VA native Juwuan Weaver who hit .317 last season, with 26 RBI's and 4 home runs.
"Juwuan is a physically gifted player who is really starting to put it all together," said Little. "He will have a solid year for us at the plate and he can really go get the ball in the outfield."
The rest of the lineup may take some time to sort out, but Little thinks there are enough talented players to make it work.
At first base, a trio of talented players will share time there. Freshman Schaeffer will man the corner bag when not pitching. Joel Spishock and Andrew Berry return from last year to provide depth and options. All three look to garner additional at bats as the designated hitter.
At second base sophomore Austin Martin, (Rawlings, MD) will man the spot and most likely lead-off in the Catamounts attack. Freshman Trent Robison, (Edinboro, PA) also looks to get significant time in the infield.
In left field Potomac State has a returner in Pete Costigan who gained serious playing time at the end of the 2018 season. In 66 at bats, the Alexandria, VA native hit .379 with 16 runs batted in and a home run.
Behind the plate sophomore Cole Miller, (Myerstown, PA) gets the starting nod as Little likes his toughness and work ethic. Backing him up will be a pair of freshman Christian Reyes, (Philadelphia, PA) and Connor Kelley, (Cumberland, MD).
"We are looking forward to getting started. Our guys have been working hard since August and they know that we will only be successful if we continue to keep up that effort throughout the season," said Little. College baseball is a grind, but this is the part of the year that we look forward to the most."