ARMOLD: Susquehannock baseball team plans to lean on multi-sport standouts during 2018
- The Susquehannock baseball team went 16-6 last season.
- The Warrior were co-champions of York-Adams League Division III with Kennard-Dale.
- The Warriors return 10 players, many of whom were also part of a Division II champion football team.
In a day and age when athletes lean toward single-sport specialization at increasingly younger ages, there also exists the Susquehannock High School baseball team.
The Warriors pride themselves on finding success with multi-sport standouts. In 2018, Susquehannock looks to take the next step with players who are no strangers to capturing banners.
The Warriors posted a 16-6 record during the 2017 season, capturing a share of the York-Adams League Division III title. Susquehannock then suffered a tough, 6-5, loss to Gettysburg in the Y-A playoffs before falling the quarterfinals of the District 3 Class 4-A tournament.
The 2018 version of the Warriors is one that is looking to replicate the success of a season ago, while adding an extended postseason run this time around.
“Our big thing is our experience,” sixth-year head coach Tim Hare said at spring sports media day.
His group is one that sees the return of 10 players from last season’s roster, with four of those having been on the varsity since their freshman years.
It’s not just the baseball experience, however, that Hare is counting on this year. A group of key players on the Warriors' baseball team also played important roles for the successful Susquehannock football team.
Sentz leading again: Just as he was in the fall, Hunter Sentz will be looked upon as a leader again in the spring.
The honorable-mention all-star pitcher is back for his senior season after posting a 4-2 record with a team-bests in ERA at 1.18 and strikeouts at 45. Sentz was also a force at the plate with a .355 average with nine RBIs. He also had a team-best 22 hits and tied for the Warriors' top spot in runs (18) and doubles (four).
In the fall, Sentz took over the quarterback position early in a season that saw Susquehannock go 8-3 and capture a surprise Division II title with a 6-0 divisional record.
Sentz is also a shortstop when not on the mound.
“Definitely, our strength is pitching and defense. We’re not going to give up a lot of runs this year,” Sentz said. “We just need to score a few more (runs). But we also really know how to get guys in with bunting and base running. So, a key to this year will be hitting, because our pitching will definitely be there.”
Strong pitching staff: Sentz will be part of pitching staff that will be supported by the return of another player hoping to carry the championship spirit over from the gridiron in senior Jake Mahan.
A hurler Hare called “one of (the Warriors') top pitchers since his freshman year,” Mahan looks to follow a junior campaign that saw him go 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA. Mahan was a starting tight end and defensive end for the Warriors' football team.
Mahan, who is working on his third varsity letter this season and plays first base when not on the mound, credits his multi-sport participation as a reason for his success.
“Different sports help you with different things. I didn’t have very good footwork when I was younger, but from playing basketball and being a post guy, it really helped me become a better first baseman,” Mahan said. “Just things like that, the different skills from different sports carry over.”
Senior pitcher Josh Bobbitt also will be back in rotation for the Warriors after a junior year where Bobbitt finished 2-0 with a 1.30 ERA.
Seniors in the field: In the field, Susquehannock sees the return of senior all-star third baseman Ben Trego. The honorable mention infielder was also a running back for Susquehannock. He is joined on the baseball team again this season by fellow running back, now outfielder, Alec Kramer.
Trego batted .305 a year ago and led the team in RBIs with 14 while also recording four doubles.
Josh Smiley is back for his senior year to provide an all-around presence for the Warriors as an infielder-outfielder. Smiley led the team with a .364 average with 16 hits, seven RBIs and seven runs scored. Dalton Palmer also returns to the Warrior outfield.
Rivalry with Rams: Susquehannock will again look to K-D as its chief competition in the division. The Warriors and Rams split the division crown a season ago and are building a bit of a friendly southern York County rivalry, thanks in part to a player who has attended both schools.
Susquehannock senior catcher Sam Odegaard once attended K-D before making the switch, so match-ups with the Rams hold extra meaning for him.
The two teams will get their first look at each other when the Warriors travel to Fawn Grove on Wednesday, April 11.
Elijah Armold is a sports reporter for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.