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LEOPOLD - New Perry Central baseball coach Ty Guillaume has inherited a deep pitching staff, including four left-handers with varsity experience.
Senior left-hander Wes Linette is the team's No. 1 pitcher after going 3-4 for last year's 14-10 team (including a 2-1 loss to Southridge on a controversial balk call in the sectional) and then helping Rockport reach the American Legion World Series.
But IHSAA rules state he will have to sit out the first four games of this season because his Legion team was still playing after this school year started.
Junior lefty Tony Backer (2-3 last year) is the No. 2 starter, said Guillaume.
The other two lefties, seniors Bo Gibson (1-0 last year) and Drew Schroer (0-1) may also start some games but may be used more in relief when right-handers start to give opponents a different look later in the game, said Guillaume.
Other starting pitching candidates are three right-handers, junior Austin Hauser and sophomores Seth Raetz and Clint Cassidy.
Hauser returns as the team's main catcher.
The infield will be Schroer at first base, T.J. Lamon or Blake Hill at second, Michael Jarboe at shortstop, and Clint Schank at third, said Guillaume.
He said Ryan Hanan will also see some action at third as well as designated hitter.
Because the infield is mostly new and the team has been able to practice outside only twice, "we haven't really got a chance to get a good feel for how good our fielding is," said Guillaume. But he said Jarboe "looks really good at shortstop."
When they're not pitching, Gibson will start in center field and Linette in right field for the fourth year in a row.
Left field "is still a battle" between junior Patrick Van Winkle and sophomore Zach Lutgring, said Guillaume, though both will probably start in the outfield when Linette or Gibson pitches.
As for the team's hitting, "Wes and Bo are making solid contact right now," Guillaume said Thursday. "All our seniors look confident."
It's not surprising that Linette and Gibson would be among the leading hitters.
Linette hit .488 last year with team highs of four home runs, 31 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 40 hits (a single-season school record).
Gibson hit .468 with one homer, 31 runs scored and 22 RBIs.
Linette and Gibson have made All-PLAC the last two years.
Gibson went 12 for 13 stealing bases last year. "We've got some decent speed," said Guillaume, listing Lutgring, Linette and Gibson as "probably our three fastest."
With some experienced pitchers and hitters, Guillaume is setting some high goals for the team.
"One of our goals is to win the PLAC outright," said Guillaume. "The times we've won it before, we've shared the title (1989, 2004 and 2006).
"I think we've got the talent and pitching to do it, though Orleans and (defending champion) Mitchell will be strong competitors."
He said the Commodores are in "a tough sectional. South Spencer and North Posey have won the (Class 2A) state the last three years and Mater Dei was the state runner-up in 3A last year.
"The luck of a fabulous draw always helps in the sectional. If we got the bye, that would be ideal.
"But if not and say we draw South Spencer in the first round, will they throw their best (all-state left-hander Blake Monar) against us, or will they save him?
"It could be interesting. We'll just have to wait and see."