The Seminole Warhawks are set to start another high school baseball season. But they must overcome a tough reminder of last year that lingers.
“With some of us, last season was considered a struggling year,” said senior Jacob Silverstein who recently signed a national letter of intent with Bethune-Cookman College. “With some of those games we played, it was definitely hard to accept defeat. For the past 18 years, when you are a team that is used to a winning record and long runs going into the playoffs, a year like last year definitely opened eyes and humbled people, especially ourselves.”
Last season the Warhawks had trouble holding the top spot in 7A-District 9, finishing the season with a 12-14 record and fifth in the district. But according to head coach Jeffery Pincus, this coming season will not be a rebuilding year for the Warhawks, but many changes are coming.
“Last season’s team was a young ball club in terms of experience,” Pincus said. “Most of the team that started was either a junior or a sophomore. We also did not have many returning starters and had to find nine ball players including the pitchers to fill those slots.
Pincus also pointed out that control on the mound along with missed advantages of closing games became an Achilles heel.
Last season, the Warhawks had a team batting average of .289 with 108 stolen bases and only 109 RBIs. Their season was cut short in the first round of the district playoffs following a 1-0 loss to Countryside.
But a bad record did not deter 50 returning and new players for a three-day tryout to make the varsity squad. On the final day, 37 players made the first cut with 23 players chosen for the varsity squad.
In addition to the new talent this season, joining the retuning coaching staff of Pincus, his son Loren, Ira and Joel Berman and J.J. Johnson are three new coaches.
Jeff Shellhaus will be the infield and outfield coach and Joe Milbury will be the head coach of the “Nats” team and the hitting coach. Casey Clary will be the new pitching coach.
In addition to Silverstein, infielder Chris Berry signed a letter of intent to the University of North Florida and pitcher Joey Favetta signed with Eckerd College. They, along with Austin Lamoureaux, Rey Rodriguez, Nate Tomilonus, Tyler Koser and Garret Shoulders, form the senior class.
“We needed to work on the right things in practice as well as building good team chemistry,” said Berry. “As opposed to getting hits for ourselves, we needed to work on just moving players from base to base and getting runs early to help us hold the lead.”
For Pincus, since the Warhawks are in one of the strongest and most evenly matched districts in the county, they will face immense competition from East Lake, Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Northeast and Countryside.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us this season,” Pincus said. “All of our extra games are against playoff teams last season. If we can survive our season and flourish, we will be in good shape come districts.”
Seminole’s first regular-season game is during the Steve Georgiadis Memorial baseball tournament at Seminole High on Feb. 9.
For a full listing of games and roster, visit eteamz.com/seminolewarhawksbaseball.
2015 Seminole schedule
(home games in capital letters)
Feb. 9-14 – STEVE GEORGIADIS MEMORIAL BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
Feb. 18 – BERKELEY PREP, 7 p.m.
Feb. 20 – LINCOLN PARK ACADEMY, 7 p.m.
Feb. 24 – at Countryside, 7 p.m.
Feb. 27 – EAST LAKE, 7 p.m.
March 3 – at Pinellas Park, 7 p.m.
March 6 – at Sebring, 7 p.m.
March 7 – at Winter Haven, noon
March 10 – NORTHEAST, 7 p.m.
March 12 – LARGO, 7 p.m.
March 13 – COUNTRYSIDE, 7 p.m.
March 17 – at East Lake, 7 p.m.
March 19 – at Tarpon Springs, 7 p.m.
March 20 – PINELLAS PARK, 7 p.m.
March 24 – at Clearwater, 7 p.m. (Jack Russell Stadium)
March 26 – DUNEDIN, time tba
March 27 – CLEARWATER, time tba
March 30-April 3 – Dunedin Easter Tournament
April 7 – at Northeast, 7 p.m.
April 18 – PALM HARBOR UNIVERSITY, 7 p.m.
April 17 – at Venice, 7 p.m.
April 21-24 – District tournament at Northeast.