ST. MARYS - St. Marys Post 79 head coach Wirt Cook doesn't believe he is being outlandish when stating his goals for his American Legion baseball team.
Last year marked the second season since the program was resurrected and the ballclub responded by doubling its win total from the previous season. Cook would be disappointed if Post 79 fails to keep that pace for the 2012 campaign.
"Last year, we were 13-26 and with the kids we have I would expect nothing less than flipping records," Cook said. "I don't see any reason why we can't win 25 games."
Cook is raising the bar primarily because of the return of two individuals - Andrew Sellers and Colby Vanoy. Sellers played for Ohio Valley University in the spring before taking a medical redshirt, while Vanoy was expecting to see work as pitcher for Potomac State before a case of mononucleosis sidelined him before the season began.
Considered the two aces of the staff, Sellers and Vanoy have added another dimension that brings the team together.
"We need players to take charge and they have done that so far in practice," Cook said. "They have helped the team chemistry - they have been a couple of team leaders."
American Legion Baseball - St. Marys Post 79
1Mitch DavisP-OFParkersburg Catholic
2Aaron TiceP-IFSt. Marys
5D.J. BurgessP-C-IFRitchie County
8Colby VanoyP-OFPotomac State
10Bobby CastoOFParkersburg Catholic
12Ryder BolinP-1B-OFRitchie County
19Jarrod LoughP-IF-OFSt. Marys
21Andy NewhartP-IF-OFWood County Christian
22Andrew SellersP-OFOhio Valley University
34Robbie HarperP-IF-OFSt. Marys
44Zack RomineC-1B-OFParkersburg Catholic
9Wirt CookHead coach
3Kyle WiegelAsst. coach
7Mike DavisAsst. coach
24Josh HudkinsAsst. coach
June 3at Beverly-Lowell Post 389/750, 1 p.m.2-7s
June 5at West Virginia Power, 5 p.m.2-7s
June 7Parkersburg Post 15, 5:30 p.m. (at St. Marys)2-7s
June 9at Moundsville Post 3, 1 p.m.2-7s
June 10Elkins Post 29, 2 p.m. (at Ritchie County)2-7s
June 13at Parkersburg Post 15, 6 p.m.2-7s
June 14a-Mount Vernon, 5 p.m.1-7
June 15a-Summerset Post 131, 12:30 p.m.1-7
June 15a-Clarksburg Post 13, 2 p.m.1-7
June 16a-French Creek Valley, 11:30 a.m.1-7
June 16a-Bridgeport MVB, 7 p.m.1-7
June 19at South Charleston Post 94, 6 p.m. 2-7s
June 23Beverly-Lowell Post 389/750, 1 p.m. (at St. Marys)2-7s
June 26Bridgeport (at Ritchie County), 5 p.m.1-9
June 28West Virginia Power (at St. Marys), 5 p.m.2-7s
June 29-July14th of July Tournament (at Cambridge)
July 5South Charleston Post 94 (at St. Marys), 5:30 p.m.2-7s
July 7at Beckley Post 32, 1 p.m.2-7s
July 10at Bridgeport, 5:30 p.m.2-7s
July 12-14Moundsville Tournament
July 19Moundsville Post 3, 5:30 p.m. (at St. Marys)2-7s
July 21Beckley Post 32, 1 p.m. (at St. Marys)2-7s
July 25-27Area Tournament
Ritchie County's D.J. Burgess and Parkersburg Catholic's Mitch Davis also are back on the roster. They round out a rotation which needs to vastly improve their strikeout-to-walk ratio. In 2011, Post 79 pitchers struck out 157 while issuing 192 walks.
"We need to work ahead in the count," Cook said. "I know we will hit and play pretty good defense, but our success solely rests on the pitchers' shoulders."
Of the 14 players on the roster, Cook also will utilize the services of Aaron Tice, Jarrod Lough and Robbie Harper on the pitching rubber. All three hail from St. Marys High School.
Others figured to see innings are Wood County Christian's Andy Newhart, Ritchie County's Ryder Bolin and Parkersburg's Tony Brunicardi.
Offensively, Post 79 wouldn't mind equaling or surpassing its .340 team batting average from a year ago. However, instead of relying on small-ball, Cook projects a lineup which will drive the ball and put runs on the board.
Davis and Brunicardi will be the sparkplugs at the top of the order. Providing pop in the heart of the order are Vanoy and Parkersburg Catholic's Zack Romine.
"This will be Zack's first year with us," Cook said. "That kid is a horse. I've never seen a kid so strong."
Rounding out the roster are Parkersburg's Will Salmans, Parkersburg Catholic's Bobby Casto and Williamstown's Brandon Yost.
Cook likes the versatility of his squad. And that will be a requirement as Post 79 opens the season Sunday with a doubleheader at Beverly-Lowell Post 389/750 followed by doubleheaders later in the week against West Virginia Power (Tuesday), Parkersburg Post 15 (Thursday) and Moundsville Post 3 (Saturday).
"In our first six games, we have four games against Area opponents, so we will find out where we are in the pecking order," Cook said.
The coaching staff features Kyle Wiegel, Mitch Davis' brother Mike Davis and Ohio Valley University product Josh Hudkins. Steve Tice serves as manager for Post 79.
"Starting with Steve, from top to bottom everybody truly cares about the game of baseball and the aspect of winning games," Cook said. "It's going to be a lot of fun, but I told the kids it's won't be fun if we don't win games. I know it is a lot to expect, but I don't see any reason why we can't win 25 games."