Wyoming Area baseball is embarking on a season of change.
Since the end of the 2017 season, the Warriors have replaced their head coach, their top two pitchers and most of the lineup.
Rob Lemoncelli takes over as head coach.
Marc Anthony Minchello returns to the lineup, but at a new position as the center fielder. Minichello, a senior, will continue to double up with track and field duties as a javelin thrower, who will continue in that event at the University of Pennsylvania.
Matt Wright and Dylan Melberger, two more seniors, are the next-most experienced returnees after serving as the third and fourth pitchers and also playing frequently in the outfield.
Although there will be a lot of new faces in the field and, in some cases, on the roster, the Warriors will not be a young team.
Other seniors could be among the impact players.
P.J. Angeli, Aaron Zezza and Kyre Zielinski have all returned to baseball for their senior years after excelling in other high school sports. C.J. Rome appears ready to contribute offensively after seeing most of his earlier playing time defensively. Brad Barletta, part of the pitching depth a year ago, could be one of the main performers there this season.
Angeli, who plans to play football at Dickinson College, has been cleared after reconstructive knee surgery for a serious injury that ended his season in the first game. He had competed in track and field as a jumper previously in high school. Zezza and Zielinski joined Wright as starters on the basketball team that won a postseason game for the first time in 12 years.
The Warriors finished a game behind state Class 4A champion Dallas last season in a tightly packed division race after they won the Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 titles in 2015 and 2016.
“We don’t bring back much experience in terms of in-game experience, but we have a nice mix of seniors and a nice mix of underclassmen, juniors and sophomores, as well,” Lemoncelli said. “We even brought up a freshman, Ethan Elmes.
“We have youth and leadership that we’re hoping can blend together for us.”
Sophomore Ryan Petrucci and junior Zack Nossavage are working at catcher.
Rome is at first base and could be in the middle of the batting order after leading the offense in getting Lemoncelli’s career off to a 2-0 start in non-league play with wins over Wallenpaupack and Carbondale.
A group of a half-dozen or more players will fill out the rest of the infield in some combination. Lemoncelli likes them to be able to play more than one position.
Junior John Angelella and sophomore Chase Yochem could play second or third base. Zezza could be in one of the spots in the middle while Barletta, when not pitching, and Angeli are other possibilities at shortstop.
Melberger, who could also spend time at third base, is part of a similar combination in the outfield.
“We have four outfielders and, if you count a few of the utility guys, five or six that can play at any time,” Lemoncelli said. “We’re going to roll with the hot hand at the plate.”
Minichello, Wright and Melberger are joined in that group by sophomore Cole Coolbaugh. Seniors Zielinski and Jake Hogan could add to the options.
Wright, Barletta and Melberger should get help in mound duties from Coolbaugh and junior left Toby Hallman. Wright is also a lefty.
Lemoncelli is a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Wyoming Area who played four years of baseball each at Pittston Area and King’s College. He spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Pittston Area and four years as an instructor at Baseball U.
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