Prep Baseball Report

2015 Season Preview: PIAA District V

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

Today marks the first two installments of our season preview content, which will run for three weeks up to the first official competition date for PIAA schools on March 20. To view all district previews as they are released, please visit our District Previews 2015 page.

PIAA District V Top Prospects (listed alphabetically)

Raven Beeman, 2015, OF, Somerset Area (UMBC)
Brenden Bowser, 2015, SS, Berlin Brothersvalley (Pitt-Johnstown)
Connor Christner, 2015, RHP/IF, Meyersdale Area (Potomac State)
Riley Christner, 2017, RHP/IF, Meyersdale Area
Nick Gooden, 2018, RHP/OF, Berlin Brothersvalley
Connor Litton, 2015, IF, Southern Fulton
Dillon Lashley, 2015, OF, Southern Fulton
Trent Rider, 2016, RHP, Southern Fulton
Michael VanLenten, 2015, RHP/OF, Somerset Area
Brady Walker, 2016, LHP/OF, North Star

Class A

Southern Fulton brings back the vast majority of its district championship squad, including four Sideling Hill/ICC all-stars: Lashley (.375 AVG, .475 OBP, 17 BB vs 13 K, 11 XBH, 17 SB), senior infielders Tristan Douglas (.364 AVG, .459 OBP, 13 BB vs 9 K) and Litton (.477 AVG, .544 OBP, 12 BB vs 6 K, 13 XBH, 24 SB), and Rider (54.2 IP, 46 H, 6 BB, 69 K). Litton (31 IP, 17 H, 19 BB, 49 K) was also one of the Indians top arms last spring, while junior Zach Clark (10.2 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 14 K) is in position to log more innings.

With the return of three all-WestPAC RHPs on the mound -- Connor Christner (56 IP, 46 H, 20 BB, 84 K), Riley Christner (32 IP, 21 H, 7 BB, 53 K), and senior Brady McKenzie (34 IP, 16 H, 20 BB, 38 K) -- Meyersdale Area is poised to defend its conference title and make a strong push in district play. Coach Wayne Miller has four holes to fill in his line-up, but can count on the Christners (Connor hit .552 with 21 XBH & 11 SB, while Riley hit .500 with 19 XBH & 11 SB), McKenzie (.347 AVG, 11 SB), and senior OF Jason Ritchey (.426 AVG, 8 SB) to provide plenty of run-support.  Also from three-sport phenom Riley, there's this display of arm strength.

Now two years removed from back-to-back state tournament appearances, North Star hopes an inexperienced roster can grow up quickly. Senior catcher Zach Maluchnik (.368 AVG, .455 OBP, .561 SLG, 15 SB) is the only returning hitter to bat over .233 last year, while Walker (38.2 IP, 22 H, 14 BB, 61 K) is the lone returning pitcher who saw significant mound time.

Coming off an all-WestPAC campaign, junior catcher Joey Swank (.469 AVG, .564 OBP, .593 SLG) returns to lead the offense for Shanksville-Stonycreek, which returns eight of nine regulars, including three others who hit over .400: senior outfielder Steve Weible, junior outfielder Joe Hudak, and junior first baseman Nick Norris. Coach Lucas Mihelcic's right-handed pitching staff, which is completely intact from last season, will be fronted by Weible (51.2 IP, 40 H, 15 BB, 59 K), with Hudak, Norris, and sophomore Will Brant also slated for quality innings.

Northern Bedford County returns two-thirds of its starting line-up, including three sophomores -- catcher Jake Cherry (.328 AVG, .474 OBP, 15 BB vs 9 K), utility Carter Replogle (.293 AVG, .417 OBP, 6 SB), and Sideling HIll Honorable Mention outfielder Jacob Dasher (.319 AVG, .421 OBP, 8 SB) -- who ranked among the Panthers top offensive performers as rookies. The pitching staff graduated its ace, and will need to collectively harness its command (the returners combined to walk more than they struck out last spring) in order to compete with the top dogs in the district.

Berlin Brothersvalley enters the season with freshmen and sophomores comprising nearly 60% of its roster. No less than four two-way players will contribute for first-year coach Stephen Stanley: all-WestPAC selection Bowser, freshman RHP/OF Nick Gooden, senior LHP/Util Michael Gross, and sophomore RHP/3B Chandler McClucas. Senior catcher Tyler DeArmitt will also provide offensive support.

Having lost five position player starters and its top three pitchers to graduation, Conemaugh Township Area will need some of its younger players who got experience on the varsity level last year to step up. Sophomore 3B/RHP Jake Grosik and junior C/RHP Josh McKool will be key contributors on the mound and at the plate, while they will be joined on coach Sam Zamanini's pitching staff by junior RHP Mike Roman.

Senior infielder Tim Garlitz (.361 AVG, .455 OBP) and junior infielder Matt Geiger (.310 AVG, .408 OBP, 6 BB vs 5 K), both all-WestPAC selections, will be the 1-2 punch on the mound and in the line-up for Salisbury-Elk Lick. Junior Ross Mazer (20 IP, 21 H, 7 BB, 18 K) will join Garlitz (29.2 IP, 25 H, 18 BB, 34 K) and Geiger (24.2 IP, 41 H, 16 BB, 28 K) on an experienced Elks pitching staff.

Despite the graduation of three senior pitchers, Fannett-Metal looks to take a step forward in its development this spring. Coach Kory Miller will turn to junior RHP Hunter Kann (16.2 IP), along with sophomore RHP Cole Funk (16.2 IP) and sophomore LHP Taylor Miller (5 IP) to increase their workloads and production. Junior outfielder Chris Rosenberry (.350 OBP, 13 SB) will set the table for a Tigers offense powered by first baseman Kann (.393 AVG).

Class AA (forms a sub-region with District VI)

Chestnut Ridge welcomes back two-thirds of its starting line-up, including sophomore Shawn Brady (.397 AVG), who received Sideling Hill all-star recognition at designated hitter his rookie campaign. Junior third baseman Matt Monko (.492 AVG, .603 SLG) and senior first baseman/catcher Luke Stultz (.439 AVG, .578) provide some pop, while the Lions hope to get a full season of production out of senior utility Colby Hillegass, who hit .593 while only playing the season's final month. They may need it as last year's top three innings eaters graduated, leaving Monko, Stultz, and Brady as likely candidates to see their mound time increase.

There's nowhere to go but up for Everett Area, as it comes off a winless 2014 campaign. Senior RHP Zach Mearkle and junior RHP Mahlon Akers once again find themselves atop the Warriors staff, while two sophomores, LHP Joel Colledge and RHP Mason Akers, will push for innings as well. Coach Andy Pepple will look to Mearkle, senior Sideling Hill 1st-team infielder Jake Jay, and senior DH/OF Nathan Sponsler to power his offense.

Class AAA (forms a sub-region with District VI)

Michael VanLentenIf Somerset Area is going to stretch its string of state tournament appearances to three in a row, it will need to find a way to replace the graduates who pitched 86% of its innings last spring. The leading candidate is VanLenten (17 IP, 9 H, 11 BB, 22 K; right), the only returner to log double-digit innings. Offensively, five regulars are back, led by Beeman (.522 AVG, .739 SLG, 11 SB) and senior first baseman Bryce Mostoller (.474 AVG, .562 OBP, 13 BB vs 6 K, 13 SB).

Season Preview Schedule:

2/27 - PAISAA
2/27 - District V
2/28 - District IX
3/1 - District VI
3/2 - District IV
3/3 - District X
3/4 - District III (Class A & AA)
3/5 - District VII (Class A)
3/6 - District VII (Class AA)
3/7 - District II
3/8 - District XI
3/9 - District I (Class A, AA, AAA)
3/10 - District III (Class AAA)
3/11 - District VII (Class AAA)
3/12 - District I (Class AAAA)
3/13 - District III (Class AAAA)
3/14 - District VII (Class AAAA)
3/15 - District XII