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March 28, 2014
The Advertiser-Tribune

Coach: Dustin Smith, second season (2-26).

2013: 2-26, 1-13 NBC.

Returning letterwinners: Seniors Ricky Medina (OF); Hunter Abell (1B); Alex Souders (C/OF); Alex Jackson (DH/3B). Juniors Chris Hampton (IF/OF); Kaleb Bemis (IF); Robbie Crotty (OF/P). Sophomores Lance Smith (OF/P); Dugan Smith (P); Sam Grine (OF).

Others: Juniors Noah Hammer (3B/P); Grant Rayburn (OF/C); Jacob Fretz (OF). Sophomores Elliot Hossler (C/IF/OF); Kobey Bemis (IF); Bryston Baeder (OF); Sethe Daugherty (IF/P); Nolan Gilts (P/IF); Clay Renz (IF/OF). Freshmen Trey Yates (P/IF); Ryan Phillips (C/OF); Kyle Hopkins (C/IF); Donovan Vogel (IF/OF/P); Chad Spangler (OF); Austin Sauber (IF/OF/P); Trent Dukes (1B/OF); Dalton Cook (1B/OF); Michael Jordan (OF); Eli Hickle (IF/OF/P).

Outlook: Last year was a struggle for the Redmen, with the losses piling up right alongside the errors.

Now, coach Smith hopes the experience of those lows help turn both numbers around.

"The biggest thing is, hopefully we learn from last year and have fun. I'm not sure if they had too much pressure on themselves last year to try to do more than what they really were capable of. Just make the plays - nothing special, nothing fancy, just playing hard-nosed baseball, fundamental baseball," he said. "I think as long as we make (other teams) earn their runs, we will be fine," he said.

"Just making other teams earn their runs is my big focus this year instead of just giving it to them," he said. "Last year, we earned about every run we got. We had to manufacture runs. The other teams, we'd give them passed balls and errors and walks every game."

The Redmen have a good returning base to build around.

Abell leads the veterans after gaining NBC honorable mention status as a designated hitter, hitting .380 with 23 RBIs and six home runs.

Lance Smith (.323) and Kaleb Bemis (.301, 14 steals) are also back after hitting better than .300, with Crotty (.277, 16 RBIs) and Hampton (.279, 7-2B) returning to again bolster the offense.

Depth will also help.

The Redmen have 29 players in the program this year, seven more than last year and plenty to field full squads for varsity and junior varsity games. Last year, a few absences at the same time forced Fostoria to cancel a few JV games.

And the defense should be much better after averaging more than five errors per game last year, coach Smith added.

"Our defense should be our strength, by far. Alex Souders came a long way catching, he's put in a lot of work in the offseason; arm's gotten a lot better," he said. "Our infield should be tough. Our outfield should be really good this year.

"The morale's good, the kids are working hard. We've got a good group of kids," he said. "I'm pleased so far with what I see."



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