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Heralds, Lakers, Warriors getting ready for the prep baseball season

Mar. 25—Staff Report

Play Ball!

That's the goal for high school baseball teams as the season gets undreway.

Saint Johh, Pymatuning Valley and Edgewood are looking forward to battle both county and out-of-area schools in the 2024 baseball season.

More previews will appear in upcoming editions.

SAINT JOHN

The Heralds are looking to improve on a 16-5 season in 2023.

"We had a lot of succcess from last year's team, but we feel our younger guys can really step it up," coach Alvin Rodriguez said. "We are still a young team with two seniors."

Those seniors are Bryson Vennetti and AJ Henslee.

Saint John's core is its junior class, which consists of Will Anderson, Ryan Williams, Ezra Campbell and Aaron Wychock.

"We also have a junior transfer in Kyle Hejduk, who has immediately fit right in and will be contributing from day one," Rodriguez said.

The coach also likes the sophomore and freshman groups.

"Sophomore Anthony Severino is coming off an amazing freshman season and has done nothing but improve over the offseason, and freshmen Brady Cole and Chase Clutter look to make an impact," Rodriguez said.

Offensively last season, Anderson batted .389, Campbell .308, Severino .281, Williams .231.

Anderson recorded 13 steals and seven RBIs, Campbell nine steals, Severino seven RBIs and eight steals and Williams eight RBIs.

On the mound, Anderson notched 32 strikeouts and Williams added 25.

PV

Junior Ryan Croston returns after batting .516 with eight doubles, two triples, 32 RBIs and 16 stolen bases last season.

Sophomore Sean Croston hit .281 with 12 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in the 2023 campaign, while junior Ty Vickery checks in with a .254 average, three doubles, one triple, 12 RBIs and six stolen bases.

"We have good athletes who play three sports and have been successful in their fall/winter sports," coach Neal Croston said. "We only have one senior, but have good group of juniors."

PV went 10-11 last season.

EDGEWOOD

Last season, the Warriors finished 14-9 overall, 8-4 in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division.

First-year coach Derek Stern has two-time county player of the year Logan Kray back. The senior will take the mound again this season as well as play middle IF and even some time in the outfield.

Senior Tony Hall hit .444 last year with 12 RBI. Hall is a veteran catcher and will also play third base and pitch.

Seniors Aiden Hernandez and Drew Hlavtur are slated to play huge defensive roles, both playing outfield at times. Hernandez is also a versatile player who can be utlitzed at differente positions, including at pitcher.

Juniors Caleb Johnson, Zane Naylor and Anthony Ciesicki bring a lot of game experience to the squad and can take the mound on any given day for Edgewood.

Sophomore Alex Spurduto and Riley Baldwin are other notable players.

"Strengths this year are our versatility for sure," said Stern, who was Edgewood's JV coach last season. "We have quite a few guys that can play multiple positions at a high level. Making substitutions easier and with most of our guys being able to pitch well be able to focus on taking care of arms and keeping teams at bay with multiple guys on any given night.

"We have a core group of guys that have played together for many years and are very familiar with each other. That type of brotherhood leads to some accountability amongst themselves.

Stern also talked about the team's weaknesses, such as balancing the deep staff and keeping everyone loose and ready to go, and moving back to a more local (Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division) conference will pose some weather related issues.

"I think our ability to get off to a good start will be key, both as the season transposes and during our individual games," Stern said. "Our goal is to strike first, put the pressure on the other dugout and make the routine plays to limit extra pitches and extra opportunities for opponents.

I feel like the conference is ours to take. We have to punch in and go to work. Be very business-like, be professional and take care of the baseball. I feel like our squad can play with the best. Late in the season we'll be in the conversion no doubt.