Senior catcher Mike Mann, left, and pitcher Alex McGathey are expected to be among the leaders for the 2013 Seminole High baseball team. McGathey signed with the University of North Florida and Mann signed with the University of South Florida.
SEMINOLE – The games are set and the team has been chosen for the Seminole High School 2013 baseball season.
“So far things are looking good,” said senior catcher and USF signee Michael Mann. “I am ready to see how our team does, how we get along together and see how far this team can go. We have a lot of practice to do, especially after losing Brett (Phillips) in the outfield, but definitely have backups that can get the job done.”
Warhawks head coach Jeff Pincus said this season would focus on one main important aspect: fine-tuning.
“Our situational offense for some part always has really been our Achilles heel,” said Pincus. “We need to make sure that everyone that is on the field will be on the same page in terms of what to do in certain situations. Even though last season we had one of the highest team-wide batting averages in the county, we left runners on bases consistently. We forced our pitchers to have to nurse very slim leads.”
The Warhawks, who finished 24-5 last season, had a team batting average of .346 and a .451 slugging percentage. But their season was cut short in the first round of the regional playoffs following a 6-1 loss to Gaither.
Of the 17 returning players, two new faces were added to the roster along with eight reserve spots for a total of 29 players. Among the newcomers are freshmen Matt Tharp and Ethan Roberts.
According to Pincus, roster spots will be left open for reserve players to compete for each week. This will serve as an incentive for them to perform and to see what awaits them to be a part of the roster.
“We had a tremendous amount of talented freshmen and sophomores try out.” Pincus said. “The two players that I chose for the active roster are players that fill specific needs such as speed on the bases and defensive prowess. This year I have 27 varsity baseball players. Eight of them are going to compete each week for a right to wear the two uniforms we are not giving out. I got 21 uniforms available and rather than choose 20 and keep one out, we elected to keep 19 and keep two uniforms each week.”
Another big deciding factor was the FHSAA ruling that only a maximum of 20 players can be on the active roster when the district playoffs start. For Pincus, it is heart breaking to tell a player that they’re being cut.
Besides Mann, the roster includes two other players committed to college programs. Right-handed pitcher Alex McGathey has committed to the University of North Florida and recent St. Petersburg Catholic transfer Corey Baptist has committed to the University of Mississippi.
“Alex brings his pitching leadership,” said Pincus. “He is a player that I am expecting to bring all around leadership. He brings tremendous mentality as a pitcher and is a fierce competitor and is going to deliver a big year at the plate when he isn’t on the mound.
“Corey brings a bat swing and power that should be registered as a lethal weapon when he makes contact with the ball. He brings the potential for tremendous exposure and another bat in the lineup that protects our other hitters.”
Returning coaches include Keith Stegbauer, strength conditioning coach J.J. Johnson, Tom Beck, Loren Pincus and Ira Berman. New addition to the team this year is pitching coach Patrick Eckelberger, a former SHS player.
“Patrick has a great demeanor and rapport with the kids,” said Pincus. “I decided that I wanted someone who would especially work and develop with our younger pitchers and improve our veterans.”
The Warhawks’ season will consist of 10 district games and contests with non-district notables Manatee and Jesuit.
Seminole defeated Tampa’s Berkeley Prep 9-2 during a preseason matchup in the Diamond Classic before losing 7-5 to cross-town rival Osceola.
It was the only time during the regular season the two teams will face off, but Pincus is hoping they will see each other again during the PCAC championship.
“We start off strong and we just keep getting stronger,” Pincus said. “The schedule is designed to demonstrate that if they can survive for the regular season, they can be well tested and ready for the post season. There should be no surprises.”
Seminole’s first home game was against IMG-Pendleton Academy Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. The Warhawks host Palm Harbor University on Tuesday, Feb. 19.