GNADENHUTTEN -- Seventh-year coach Shannon McComb will have to replace five starters from last spring's Division II District finals team if the Indian Valley Braves' baseball program is to enjoy a successful 2012 campaign.
All five will be missed, especially all-Ohioan Logan Lozart, now playing at Ohio University.
Returning to the fold for the Braves will be six letterwinners, headed by seniors Mitch Kennedy, Holden Fellers, Kyle Lehigh and Dusty Byers. Of those, Fellers and Lehigh are pitchers; Kennedy will play infield and Byers is slated to see action at first base.
Junior letterwinner Brandon Fox will return to play infield and eat up mound innings as well sophomore letterman Brady Byers, who will pitch and play outfield.
Other seniors on the team are third baseman/pitcher Alex Bear, outfielder/catcher Chase Gibson, catcher Jeff Gibson, first baseman/pitcher Brennan Rentsch and catcher Dusty Nicholas.
The only other junior on the squad is pitcher/infielder Nolan Rennicker.
A pair of sophomores, in addition to Brady Byers, also figure to see varsity action. They are pitcher/infielder Shawn Mills and outfielder Garron Fawcett.
Rounding out the 2012 varsity roster will be freshman catcher/third baseman Jake Davis.
With a roster which boasts no fewer than seven potential hurlers, its no wonder that coach McComb will look at pitching as a potential strength for the upcoming season.
"We should be a solid pitching team," he commented, "but we will be a work in progress offensively. Another question mark will be the lack of varsity experience that some of our players have."
The jayvee squad consists of Brandon Anderson, Josh Arthurs, Jack Beirbower, Jared Byers, Konner Cool, Coby Eckstein, Alex Ferguson, Colton Frink, Joey Kopp, Mitchell Lehigh, Andrew Mann, Caden McGuire, Logan Bebolt, Logan Ryan, Kordell Selards and Brock Weber.
Last spring's unit posted a respectable 17-8 mark and included a third place finish in the PAC-7 standings. The 2011 team was knocked out of post-season play by perennial eastern Ohio power Steubenville.
McComb is looking for Tuslaw and Triway to be the teams to beat for the 2012 league title.
In addition to the usual PAC-7 opponents, Indian Valley will face a daunting list of non-league foes including Zanesville, Canton Central Catholic, Tri-Valley, Dover and Louisville.
Another schedule highlight will be a Friday, May 11 twinbill versus Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy to be played at Thurman Munson Stadium in Canton.
Assisting McComb with the Braves' program are Jamie Burcher and Aaron Haney.