(Posted March 1, 2004)

Huntingdon, PA ? The first step of rebuilding is never fun. The fun part begins after the foundation has been built, and the team progresses. After finishing with a 21-16 record and just missing out on a conference postseason spot last year?in what figured to be a rebuilding year?the Juniata College baseball team hopes to see the enjoyable part of rebuilding come this season.

?We?re still a pretty young team, but the younger guys have some good experience,? Head Coach George Zanic explained. ?Our young players saw a lot of action last season, and I think they will continue to develop. We also have some quality upperclassmen, including a group of seniors who have been outstanding leaders.?

Three of those seniors figure to play key roles in the starting lineup. Marc Frailey (Middletown/Middletown) has started since his freshman season, and this season will be making the move to third base. Frailey hit .317 as a junior and was second on the team with 40 hits. Kodi Hockenberry (Red Land/Lewisberry) will get the starting nod in centerfield after hitting .345 and scoring 27 runs during his junior season. Senior Adam Camberg (Altoona/Altoona) will serve as the team?s starting designated hitter, a role he filled as a junior when he led the Eagles in RBI. Another key veteran will be junior Matt Garner (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood). Garner hit .312 as a sophomore and tied for the team lead in RBI. He will bat somewhere in the middle of the Eagle lineup and hold down one of the outfield spots.

The Eagles have the benefit of returning nearly their entire lineup and pitching staff from a season ago, which should bring stability to this year?s team.

?These guys have all been through the rigors of conference play,? Zanic stated. ?They have a good understanding of their roles, and I think that understanding will lead to improvement.?

Zanic is excited about the speed at the top of his lineup, an element of the team that he thinks will generate a lot of runs. Sophomores Troy Beaver (Bellwood-Antis/Bellwood) and David Saintz (Titusville/Titusville) both hit better than .300 as freshmen and scored 49 runs between them, and will set the table for the Eagle lineup this season. Saintz was Juniata?s lone representative to the Commonwealth All-Conference team and was named the conference rookie of the year after leading Juniata with a .361 batting average and a .557 slugging percentage.

?With David and Troy setting things up at the top of the lineup our offense should be real explosive,? Zanic said. ?With some of the bats we have in the middle of the order, we can do some damage with those guys getting on in front of them.?

If the offense does the damage, the Eagles have a pitching staff that is capable of holding the leads. The returning pitching corps went a combined 19-13 last season. The group will be led by Jayme Fye (Philipsburg/Philipsburg) who posted a 7-3 record with a 3.58 ERA in his first season with the Blue and Gold. Also back in the rotation is senior Ryan O?Donnell (Lebanon/Lebanon) who was 5-1 a season ago, and sophomore Eric Bridenbaugh (Central/Martinsburg) who was 2-5 in his inaugural campaign while finishing second on the team in innings pitched. Andrew Michanowicz (Bishop Guilfoyle/Altoona), who was 2-1 as a freshman will team with a pair of newcomers to fill out the rotation. There are also familiar faces in the bullpen, led by senior Eric Hatten (DuBois/DuBois) who notched seven saves as the closer in 2003.

?Our pitching staff is deeper than it has ever been during my time here,? Zanic said. ?I feel very confident going to any of our guys and I believe they will get the job done.?

Juniata closed the 2003 season by winning 11 of its last 13 games. If that stretch is a sign of what Juniata?s young roster will be capable of achieving with some experience under its belt then the prospects look very bright for the 2004 campaign.

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Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.