Apollo-Ridge baseball team looks to bounce back

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Friday, March 6, 2020 | 4:12 PM


Apollo-Ridge’s baseball team got off to a positive start last spring when the Vikings won their season opener at Leechburg, 6-4.

However, that turned out to be the only time the team got in the win column. The Vikings finished 1-13 overall and 0-10 in Section 3-2A.

“We’re definitely looking for a much better year than what we experienced,” Apollo-Ridge coach Jason Mamros said. “I am pretty confident to say we won’t be the same one-win team we were last year.”

Mamros took over the job less than two weeks before last season began. He is happy to have a full year in the program.

“Last year, I didn’t have them prepared for the season. We were young and got started late. This year, I think they are very much more prepared. They are taking a lot of indoor reps. Our early batting cage results are far advanced from last year.”

Everyone returns from last year’s team, which did not have a senior.

“Things are going well. We have a large turnout this year — 27 kids. A lot of them put in a decent amount of work over the winter,” Mamros said. “We only have three seniors this year, so we’re still pretty young, but not as young as last year.

“We know a lot more of the strengths and weaknesses of the players this year. We can spend more time building on those strengths. Last year, we spent a lot of time trying to find out who we had and who could play what position since we were so young.”

In the infield, sophomore Brady Schrock returns at first base, while junior Jake Fello is at shortstop and senior Brady Reilly is at third. There are three or four players battling for the second base spot. Junior Brice Laurenti will catch. Senior Cam Bush returns to anchor the outfield at center. Freshman Brandon Butler is in left, while there is a battle for time at right field.

Junior Zeke Hreha is the team’s top pitcher. Fello slots in second in the rotation. Junior Chad Brown, Schrock and Butler could see innings as well.

“I think we have a lot of speed and versatility. Nobody is really set on only playing one positon. When we put someone different on the mound, we have three or four different options we could go with to replace that person in the field,” Mamros said.

“I think we have a strong bench. We have five or six players right now competing for those last two open spots. They are all ready to get out there and go. We still have to remind them that we were a one-win team last year. The practice time in the gym is one thing, but we have to make sure we execute out on the field.”

The team hopes an upcoming trip to Florida will give it some preseason work in nicer weather.

“It’s a great team building and bonding exercise,” Mamros said. “Hopefully, they can get some positive feelings coming back and set themselves up for a strong season.”

The Vikings want the early preparation to help when it comes time for a strong section schedule. Seton LaSalle beat Serra Catholic for the WPIAL title, while Serra Catholic edged Seton LaSalle in the PIAA semifinals, but fell in the state title game. Both teams are expected to be strong again.

“They’ll probably start the year as the top two teams in the state. The rest of our section is tough, too,” Mamros said. “I think it’s fair to say when teams we’re playing look at our record, they could possibly take us lightly. But, we’re much more prepared for this year.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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