EXETER – Wyoming Area returns just three starters, but has a promising group of young players who have had success on lower levels of baseball as the Warriors try to accomplish something that has only been done once before in school history.
“The challenge to this year’s team is are we good enough to do what only one other team in the history of the school has done, which is go back-to-back,” said Ron Musto, who enters the second season of his second stint as head coach. “We have a huge target on us.”
The Warriors will seek a repeat division title – something they accomplished in 2003 and 2004 – while continuing their pursuit of a first-ever District 2 final appearance.
“There’s only one thing more difficult in sports than winning a championship,” Muston said, “and that is repeating a championship.”
Seniors Cory Lescavage and Tyler Dougherty return in the middle of the defense and junior pitcher/first baseman Josh Kopcza return for the Warriors, the defending Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 champions.
Lescavage and Dougherty both batted over .300 last year when Lescavage was also one of the team’s top run producers. Kopcza is the only returning player with significant pitching experience.
Although he returns for his third year as starting shortstop, Lescavage often will be found on the mound.
“He’s good enough to win a game, 1-0, so we’ve got to use him,” Musto said.
Making that adjustment easier is the presence of Dougherty, another third-year starter. Dougherty will remain at second base when Lescavage plays shortstop, but will move over when Lescavage is on the mound.
“Tyler Dougherty has the ability to be a full-time shortstop,” Musto said.
Kopcza was on the mound for four scoreless innings to end the Wyoming Area season last year in a 2-1 district semifinal loss to Valley View. He was the winning pitcher when the Warriors knocked off WVC Division 1 champion Wyoming Valley West, handing the state Class AAAA finalist its only loss in the eastern half of the state in 2015.
Lescavage and Kopcza could share the role of number-one pitcher, but Musto emphasized that he is trying to again build an entire pitching staff.
“If you develop your pitchers properly, you don’t have to save pitching for a certain game because you have a pitching staff,” Musto said. “That’s the responsibility of the coach.
“We want to have a team that can play the same five days in a row.”
J.J. Neely is the team’s only other senior.
Musto said he will not be commenting on any other individual players as he puts them through a series of tests and the team prepares for its league opener April 5 at home against Lake-Lehman.
“We have competitive balance in our group of sophomores and juniors,” he said. “ … We’re trying to evaluate the talent in the program and being fair and equal across the board.
“Positions will be earned, not given.”