“We’re no longer a young team. There’s no excuse,” he said.
“It’s nice to have a solid catcher,” Kerns said. “He leads and he keeps everything in front of him.”
Senior outfielder Bobby Leatherman led the Saints in batting with a .370 mark with 27 hits and 15 RBIs. Also returning is senior first baseman Nico Gentile, who hit .308.
Senior Brett Vitkun is back for a third year and will likely carry at least one-third of the innings on the mound. He’ll also be in the outfield and looks to improve on his .291 average.
If Smithsburg can turn around the 1- and 2-run losses in late innings from last year, a subpar 4-18 record will quickly be forgotten.
“We’ve worked all offseason and when you look back, you know what you need to focus on,” Smithsburg coach Trey Cobb said. “Pitching kept us in games last year. This year, we’ve got to do it by committee to succeed.”
After a sophomore season going 5-0 with a 4.29 ERA, J.R. Rinehart slipped backward last year to 1-8 and a 6.87 ERA, But like the team record, it’s in the past.
Cobb is also counting on junior Josh Miller, who was 0-3 over 17 innings last year, to improve and help out.
The highest batting average returning is that of senior first-baseman/DH Kyle Dinterman, who batted .309 with one homer and 10 RBIs. Junior James Shiffler hit .292 and is expected to improve at the plate along with shortstop and leadoff hitter Ryan Bolton, who missed the latter part of the year with a torn ACL.
“We’re not returning much power, but we have some speed and guys to make contact and the plate and manufacture runs,” Cobb said.
The Rebels simply underachieved last year with the talent it had.
“We just didn’t produce and we lost a lot of one-run games because of defensive lapses,” coach Zack Swisher said. “We’re shoring up the defense this year and we won’t have any rookie manager lapses, either.”
Colby Johnson was a second-team All-County player, hitting .491 with two homers and 16 RBIs. When he’s not in the field, he’ll get a chance to shine on the mound as a third starter.
Swisher will put junior Airin Martin (1-4, 6.25 ERA) and senior Aaron Roby (2-5, 7.26) out as his top two starters, hoping to help improve on the Rebels’ 6-15 record from last year. Martin was honorable mention All-County.
Center fielder Tim Kitchen will be counted on to set the table and get on base with his speed. He hit .333 last year.
Leaving holes to fill via graduation were veterans Sean Przywieczerski and Brandon Hess.