by Steve Batko | Correspondent
Chris Scisciani is eager for the snow to cease so he can experience the excitement of how his Streetsboro baseball team will improve this upcoming season.
Entering his ninth season as head coach of the Rockets, Scisciani only lost one senior (outfielder Aquil Harris) from last year's young 10-17 club that finished 3-11 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division.
Coupled with the move back to the County Division and 11 returning letter winners, Streetsboro has plenty of reasons for optimism.
"We just hope that we can compete every day and play to the best of our ability and stay healthy," said Scisciani, who is 87-110 overall with the Rockets.
"If we can do that, I think we will have a chance to be at the top of the league if it ever stops snowing."
Returning senior letter winners include Nate Bailey, Alex Bison, Chris Dynowski, Austin Ritts, Gage Simpkins and Austin Szemacs.
Juniors back in the mix are Ricky Delambo, Chase Galinsky and Nick Morris, while sophomores Bobby Dixon and Ethan Flick also return.
Bailey, who enters his third year on the varsity team, can play right field, catch, or pitch after he hit .338 with a team high 11 runs batted in last spring. He had 27 hits, scored 13 runs and stole six bases.
Bison starred last year in his first campaign as he led the team in hitting with a .385 average and also paced Streetsboro in hits (30), singles (26), doubles (four), on base percentage (.547) and slugging percentage (.436).
The centerfielder was second on the team with seven stolen bases and he added eight RBIs and 13 runs.
Dynowski, who enters his third year on the varsity team, could see time behind the plate or in right or left field. He hit .270 a year ago with nine RBIs. Dynowski drew a team-leading 12 walks.
The Rockets also return their entire pitching staff. Szemacs, Simpkins and Delambo head the cast of hurlers.
"We have a deep pitching staff and three good returning starters, who threw most of our innings," said Scisciani.
"I think we also have some good juniors and sophomores who will help, but we need to develop relief pitchers, which could be a cause for concern."
Delambo posted a 4-4 record with one save and a 3.00 earned run average. He fanned 31 batters and had strong command with only 11 walks.
Szemacs was 3-5 overall with a save and a 4.34 ERA and Simpkins was 2-6 with 34 strikeouts in 44-1/3 innings of work. Szemacs struck out 42 batters, while logging 38-2/3 innings. Bailey finished 1-1.
Ritts was the starting third baseman a year ago and is a three-year veteran for the Rockets. He can play third and adds depth to the infield after hitting .249 with eight RBIs.
A first baseman, Szemacs hit .254 with 10 runs scored, six RBIs and four doubles. He also stole seven bases.
Simpkins (eight RBIs) can play in the outfield as will Morris, a fixture in left. Morris hit .258 and led the team with eight stolen bases while having a .440 on base percentage. He scored 14 runs and knocked in seven.
"We have a lot of guys battling for the three outfield spots," said Scisciani.
Galinsky (.267 and eight RBIs) also is expected to see time at shortstop and on the mound. Delambo can play second base.
Dixon and Flick are two other young Rockets who will play in the field and pitch. Dixon played second base last year and according to Scisciani, has a chance to play shortstop. Flick could be used at third base or anywhere in the field.
In limited play, Dixon hit .400 last year, while Flick hit .556 with four RBIs and three stolen bases.
Junior Chad Konek also is expected to contribute this season after seeing limited action last year. He can pitch, play third base or be used at second base.
First-year senior Brandon Gibson also can help the Rockets in the infield along with first-year junior Cody Johnson.
Other sophomores in the program include Ty Butler, Brandon Cooper-Scharra and Javarian Head.
The two varsity assistants are Eric Pinkerman and Ron Tellalian. Tracy Lewis the pitching coach.
The junior varsity coaches are Jim Lovejoy and Steve Hustack.
Scisciani also is excited about a pair of freshman left-handed pitchers in Kyle Armbrecht and Jarrod Vecchione.
"The league outlook will be tough," said Scisciani. "Woodridge, Garfield and Southeast will be the teams to beat."
Streetsboro is scheduled to make its varsity debut against PTC rival Ravenna March 31 on the road. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.
The Rockets are scheduled to host PTC foe Crestwood April 3 at 4:30 p.m. before heading to Mogadore to play Field in a PTC showdown April 4 at 4:15 p.m.
Streetsboro is set to play Windham April 5 at Kent State University. Game time is scheduled for 9 a.m. The Rockets are scheduled to make their County Division debut against Rootstown April 8 at home. First pitch is set for 4:15 p.m.
Five starters return
to softball squad
The Streetsboro softball team will have five returning starters in the lineup this year.
The Rockets, who are led by second-year head coach Jen Goldstein, finished 7-15 in 2013. They lost a 13-3 decision to Woodridge in a Division II sectional title contest.
This year, Streetsboro returns to the Portage Trail Conference County Division after spending the last two years in the Metro Division.
The returning starters are senior first baseman Kristen MacMillan; juniors Corrine Braynard (centerfielder), Makenzie Dombrowski (pitcher/utility player) and Auliah Kendall (left fielder); and sophomore Jenna Oravec (shortstop).
Braynard earned first-team All-Metro Division honors last year and Dombrowski received honorable mention.
First-year varsity players include senior third baseman Taylor Gaines, junior third baseman/outfielder Hannah Roble; sophomores Alicia Garrett (pitcher/outfielder), Elizabeth Boyer (utility) and Chelsea Diliberto (outfielder); and freshmen Justine Yates (catcher) and Sarah Varner (second baseman).
The Rockets are scheduled to make their 2014 debut against PTC rival Ravenna March 31 on the road. Game time is set for 4:15 p.m.
Streetsboro is scheduled to host Southington Chalker April 2 at 4:30 p.m.
The Rockets are set to visit Burton to play a doubleheader with Berkshire April 5. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m.
They are set to visit County Division foe Rootstown April 7 at 4:15 p.m.