By Joe Ostrica
After going 47-6 over the past two seasons and winning two West Shore Conference championships, the Avon baseball squad is hoping to continue its winning ways in 2013. Avon head coach Frank DeSmit – who is 89-40 in his six years with the Eagles – hopes the team can build on last year’s 24-4 record (12-2 in the WSC).
“We always set winning the conference as our primary goal, and we hope to earn a home game for the sectional,” DeSmit said. “We have a good core of seniors and some juniors that played well last year on the JV team. We will be strong defensively in the infield.
“We will need to work with our young pitchers to get them ready for quality innings in varsity games.”
DeSmit said leading the way for the Eagles is senior pitcher and catcher Matt Wentz, who posted a perfect 8-0 record in 2012 with a 1.37 ERA en route to first team All-WSC honors. Joining Wentz on the rebuilt pitching staff is senior Austin Bevins, a hard-throwing righty who also plays third base, and junior Ian Long, who was a spot starter in 2012. Junior Alex Tomko is a control pitcher who will be called on to be a starter and reliever.
Two seniors should lead the way at the plate for Avon. Left-handed hitter Donny Kelly (.395 average, .500 OBP) was a first team All-WSC pick last year. Brandon Linna had a .455 average and made the WSC second team.
“Brandon will be asked to bat higher in the order this year,” DeSmit said. “Donny Kelly will move into the No. 3 spot in the batting order. Austin Bevins, who batted .312 last year, is one of our best power hitters.
“Senior Bradford Dill, who started every game in 2012 at shortstop, will move to center field this year to anchor the outfield defense. Newcomers to the varsity squad include slick-fielding junior infielders Jonny Morales and Brian Baker, as well as versatile Kevin Maloney, who is making a position change himself this year by moving to first base.”
Joining Dill and Linna in the outfield are juniors Long, Andrew Lee and Tomko. The catching duties will be shared by two-time WSC honoree Wentz and junior Shaun Traine.
DeSmit said Midview will be the team to beat in the WSC.
“They are a senior-laden team with two of the best pitchers in northern Ohio,” he said. “Our young players will not only be asked to carry on the recent run of success at Avon, but will also have to do so against traditional Division I powers like St. Ignatius, Strongsville, Mayfield, Avon Lake, Westlake and Amherst.”
Avon is currently competing in the Hanahan Invitational Tournament in Charleston, S.C. The Eagles open their season against tough Southern competition that is already gearing up for the South Carolina state tournaments.
“This will be the second time we have been able to make the trip, as spring break does not always work out to allow us to travel out of state,” DeSmit said. “We will play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then have a fun day on Thursday before heading back to play Amherst on Friday and Westlake on Saturday. It will be a busy week.”