Potomac State Baseball 2014 Season Preview

Experience will be key to Catamounts’ season

Jamison Jones
Jamison Jones returns to lead the Catamounts for the 2014 season.  Last season Jones led PSC with a .434 batting average.  Photo by Raymond Burner

By Roy Harper- Potomac State College

Keyser, WV- Coming off a 40 win season last year and with several key players returning you would think that Potomac State Head Baseball Coach Doug Little would be excited for the 2014 season to begin.

However the 17-year veteran as the PSC Coach is more concerned about the weather these days.

“It has been a tough winter. I guess it has been the same for everyone in our region, but when we open up on February 21st it will be the first time we have set foot on grass and dirt in some time.”

Despite all his attention being on the Weather Channel lately, he knows that it never hurts to have a group of experienced players returning from the previous season.

In 2013, Potomac State finished with a record of 40-16, won the Region XX Championship for a the 11th time in the last 14 years with a 5-2 win over Harford Community College, and was one game away from the JUCO Word Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. Potomac State has made the trip to Colorado four times in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2011.

Can the Catamounts make another World Series run in 2014?

“I’m not sure. But I really do like this group of guys,” said Little. “They a hard working group, and they are fun to be around. They do what we ask and they go about their business the right way.”

Among the returners that Little can turn to in 2014 will be right fielder Elliott McCummings, (Deptford, NJ). Last season, McCummings hit .394 with 76 hits, 13 doubles, six triples and two home runs. He also drove in 57 runs and scored 50 times. His effort was good enough to garner NJCAA 2nd Team All-American honors.

“Elliott is quite simply a solid player,” said Little. “He had a great freshman campaign and I have no doubt that he can have another solid season this year.”

Lining up next to McCummings in centerfield will be Jamison Jones. The Keyser, WV native had a stellar freshman year as he led the Catamounts with a .434 batting average which was good enough to place him among the NJCAA Division I Baseball leaders. Jones did not start the first 13 games of the season last year, but made the most of his opportunity when he finally did start with 66 base hits, including six doubles, four triples and three home runs.

“Jamison did a fantastic job last season. He really gave us a steady bat at the top of the lineup and just seemed to have a knack for getting the clutch hit,” said Little.

Tre Porter, (Winchester, VA), rounds out a trio of everyday players that Little can count on again this season.

Porter hit .309 last season, with 50 hits, 14 doubles, seven triples, three home runs and 37 runs batted in.

The slick fielding shortstop has been battling some injuries, but will be ready when the Catamounts open up on February 21 in South Carolina.

“Tre is so talented, he works hard and he continues to get better every day. We have high expectations for him and I believe he will be even better than he was last season.

"You can't put a price on experience, "said Little. "I am confident that those three guys are capable of being solid contributors again this year and guys that can lead this team."

Little has another trio of players that gained a ton of experience last season in Connar Bastaich, (Midlothian, VA), Alex Levitan, (Charleston, WV), and Adam Meeker, (Chesterfield, VA).

Bastaich who figures to be penciled in at first base hit .337 in 42 games last year. He had 32 hits in 95 at bats and drove in 23 runs.

“I think Connar is really a fine hitter, said Little. “He had a great fall, and has a solid approach at the plate.”

Backing up Bastaich will be redshirt freshman Brent Parrish, (Keyser, WV) and newcomer Colin O’Brien, (Suffolk, VA).

Levitan, who last season was the Catamounts’ designated hitter, will shift most of his work behind the plate this year. Levitan hit .403 in 2013 with seven doubles, two home runs and 21 runs driven in. Potomac State has some solid other options behind the plate with freshmen Daniel Kerwin, (Bradenton, FL), Eddie Dutkewcyz, (Uniontown, PA) and Scott Hessler, (Berkeley Springs, WV).

Meeker is likely to start at second base for the Catamounts after a freshman season in which he hit .321 in 26 games and delivered a key pinch-hit game winning double in the Region XX Championship game. Providing some depth up the middle will be freshman Korey Foltz, (Mathias, WV).

Left field is a position that remains up for grabs as the Catamounts head south. Tre Kerns, (Fairmont, WV), Jamaal Windom, (Virginia Beach, VA), and newcomers Fraser Brown, (Charles Town, WV), and Billy Sager, (Kenova, WV) are all in the mix.

“We have some options,” said Little. “In fact we have too many choices which is a good problem to have. No matter who we run out there I have confidence that they can get it done.”

At third base sophomore Charlie Creighton, (Granger, IN) and freshman Andrew Kowalo, (Wheeling, WV) will battle for the starting nod.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us this year,” said Head Coach Doug Little. “We play in one of the toughest Regions and Districts in the country. And I have to believe this is the toughest schedule we have ever put together.”

If PSC plans to survive the tough schedule and 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 pair of southpaws. Sophomores Sam Vincenzo and Jamie Miller return this season after having picked up substantial experience in 2012. Vincenzo was 8-1 last season, with 52 strikeouts in 66 innings pitched in his 15 games while Miller was 5-2 in 52 1/3 innings pitched in 18 games and 57 strikeouts.

Jamie Miller
Jamie Miller went 5-2 in 2013 with 57 K's.

“Sam and Jamie both pitched in big games for us last year,” said Little. “To have them back is huge for us.”

Two more sophomores, Brandon Cordell, (Martinsburg, WV) and Josh McKown, (Moundsville, WV), bring with them experience that will add depth to the staff. Cordell was 4-1 a year ago with 31 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings pitched. McKown was 1-0 in 2013, with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched.

"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."

That collection of arms also leans heavy on the freshman class with a quartet of arms that Little hopes will make an impact in 2014. Kyle Elliott, (Paden City, WV), Drew Hemminger, (Somerset, PA), Matt Maiers, (Romney, WV) and Dalton Westfall, (Buckhannon, WV) all look to garner serious mound time for the Catamounts this spring.

Potomac State is ranked 19th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Pre-Season poll . They are also mentioned as “others teams to watch” in the NJCAA Division 1 Pre-Season poll .

Potomac State begins its 54-game schedule on the road February 21-23 at the Pepsi Invitational Tournament in Florence, SC where the Catamounts will play four games against Georgia Highlands College, USC Lancaster, Florence Darlington Tech and Region XX foe Cecil College.

They return to Florence again the following weekend for week II of the Pepsi Invitational.

Potomac State will hope for an early home opener with a single game at Golden Park on March 5 with Garrett 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 also host Harford Community College for a twin bill at Golden Park on March 16.

"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 2014 Potomac State Baseball schedule, click here.