New faces, new attitude for Potomac State Baseball

Zach Stolipher

Potomac State's Zach Stolipher returns from last season to lead the Catamounts in 2013. 
Photo by Raymond Burner

Catamounts open season Saturday at Pepsi Classic in South Carolina

By Roy Harper- Potomac State College

Keyser, WV- Two years ago everything seemed to go exactly as Potomac State College's Baseball team planned. They won the Region XX Baseball Tournament that they hosted at Golden Park. They then won the Eastern District Finals that they also hosted. After that they had a successful run at the Junior College World Series where they finished third in the country.

Last season was, well, different. A rash of injuries and other personnel issues plagued the Catamounts as they limped to a 25-25 season.

"We certainly have a new perspective this year," said Head Coach Doug Little. "It was a challenging year to say the least. Two years ago everything fell into place. Last season was the opposite."

In 2011 Potomac State won their tenth Region XX Championship in the last twelve years and advanced to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction Colorado for the fourth time in the last eight years. The Catamounts also went to three straight series' in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Last season, despite the disappointing record the Catamounts still advanced from a play-in game to the #4 seed in the Region XX Tournament where they eventually fell in the championship game to Harford Community College.

"After last season, we knew we needed to make some changes in order to get back to where we want to be, said Little. "We have a lot of new players, and this year's team is completely different in pretty much all aspects."

Returning experience in the lineup was a huge issue coming into last season. This year is much the same way. Only sophomore Zach Stolipher had substantial game-day experience for the Catamounts. The Martinsburg, WV native played in 43 games last year hitting at a .278 clip with 4 home runs and 21 runs batted in.

PSC will have some sophomore presence from last year, they just don't have much proven game day experience to lean on. Mike Eisel, (Wooster, OH), Scott Fox, (Elkins, WV), David Kimbrough, (Atlanta, GA), Ron Musto, (Hughestown, PA), and Frankie Wilson, (Fairmont, WV) all figure to be contributors this season offensively. But between the five, they only racked up a total of 94 at bats a year ago.

"You can't put a price on experience, "said Little. "Although I am confident that those five guys are capable of being good players and guys we can really count on."

But if the Catamounts are destined to return to their normally strong play it will be based on the performances of some new faces that may be forced to carry the load.

In all there are fourteen freshman position players that have been added to the Potomac State roster.

"We really like our new guys. They have come in from day one with a great attitude and worked really hard to get themselves ready for the grueling schedule we are about to face," said Little.

Little is especially high on two of the new faces in shortstop Tre Porter, (Winchester, VA) and Elliott McCummings, (Deptford, NJ).

"Tre and Elliott have the chance to be really special players," said Little. "They come in with some polish and have great skills. We are excited to have them for the next two years."

Little will also have Connar Bastaich, (Midlothian, VA), Tre Kerns, (Fairmont, WV), Alex Levitan, Charleston, WV), Adam Meeker, (Chesterfield, VA), and Jamaal Windom, (Virginia Beach, VA) for the next two years as these freshman plan to be in the mix for PSC.

"Anytime you have to count on so many freshman, you face a lot of uncertainty. These guys will be counted on to contribute and we feel confident that they will be up for the challenge."

Stolipher looks to be penciled in at first base after playing left field last season. Kimbrough and Porter look to play up the middle, with Eisel, Meeker, and Bastaich competing for time at the hot corner.

In the outfield Fox looks to take over for Stolipher in left. Last season Fox was featured only on the mound, but a stellar fall season has Fox being a two-way guy for Little this season.

Windom and McCummings have the edge thus far in center and right field, although Kerns, and sophomore Marquise Jones, (Charles Town, WV), along with freshman Jamison Jones, (Keyser, WV) will garner substantial time.

Behind the plate Musto, Wilson and Levitan look to man the gear and run the show for the 2013 Catamounts pitchers.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us,” said Head Coach Doug Little. “We play in one of the toughest Regions and Districts in the country. With so many new players it is always difficult to know how the team will perform, but, this group has worked really hard, done everything we’ve asked them to do and we are looking forward to the challenges this season.”

If PSC hopes to get back to Grand Junction, Colorado this season, it will, as always, depend on its pitching staff.

The pitching staff will be anchored at the top by a threesome of southpaws. Sophomores Scott Fox and Tanner Everton return this season after having picked up substantial experience in 2012. Everton was 5-1 last season with 39 2/3 innings pitched in 10 games while Fox was 1-2 in 26 innings pitched in 14 games.

Freshman Jamie Miller, (Wardensville, WV) completes the collection of lefthanders that Little plans to run out there as often as possible.

"We have a good collection of arms that I think can do some good things. If they can learn to compete and command the lower strike zone they will give us a good chance to win."

In addition to Fox, Little has a couple of other options on the mound using two-way players. Stolipher looks to be a left-handed specialist while Eisel may be much more.

"We had planned to use Mike (Eisel) on the mound last year," said Little. "he had some arm problems out of high school that seem to be behind him. I think before it's all done and said he will be one of our top starting pitchers."

Three other freshman look to add some depth for the Catamounts' staff in Brandon Cordell, (Martinsburg, WV), Josh McKown, (Moundsville, WV), and Sam Vincenzo, (St. Clairsville, OH). Redshirt freshman Mason Fordyce, (Uniontown, PA) also looks to gobble up innings for the Catamounts.

Potomac State begins its 52-game schedule on the road February 23-24 at the Pepsi Invitational Tournament in Florence, SC where the Catamounts will play four games against Darton State College, USC Sumter, Florence Darlington Tech and Region XX foe Cecil College.

They return to Florence again the following weekend for another tournament.

Potomac State will hope for an early home opener with a single game at Golden Park on March 7 with Genesee Community College.

This year’s schedule will also find the Catamounts facing off with some familiar opponents including several against Region XX foes. Potomac State will face Hagerstown Community College and Chesapeake College in a home and home series for two games each; PSC will end the regular season against Harford, on the road on May 3.

"We are looking forward to getting started. Our guys have been working hard since August and they know that we will only be successful if we continue to keep up that effort throughout the season," said Little. College baseball is a grind, but this is the part of the year that we look forward to the most."

For entire 2013 Potomac State Baseball schedule, click here.