Seven returning starters, a deep pitching staff and plenty of potent bats could add up to an outstanding season for the Harrison High School varsity baseball team.
Coach Pete Lamerato said he has never had as much experience and depth on the mound as he has this year with five starting pitchers and five relievers.
Seniors Trevor Friday, Nick Bell, Nico Janigian and John Rexroth and junior Tommy Williams will be in the starting rotation.
Friday, who signed with Saginaw Valley State University, will be the No. 1 starter to begin the season. He was 3-1 with a 1.81 ERA. He can hit 85 to 86 miles per hour on his fastball and will start in right field when he’s not pitching.
“Trevor has worked very hard in the off season,” Lamerato said. “His command is much better than last year, and his secondary pitches seem to have more bite.
“I expect Trevor to help us offensively, too. He has the size and the bat speed to be intimidating as a hitter.”
Bell’s primary role will be that of catcher. He is the returning starter at that position, but he also was 4-0 as a pitcher with a 1.55 ERA. Bell signed with Adrian College.
“Nick is one of the best defensive catchers in Oakland County,” Lamerato said, adding Bell threw out 12 of 13 runners attempting to steal last season. “He appears to be in position to have a much better year offensively.”
Juniors David Vinsky and Jared Char are multiple-sport athletes who begin their third season on the varsity baseball team.
Vinsky, who will start in center field and do some pitching, hit .398 with seven doubles, two triples, one home run and 18 RBI. He also stole 15 bases, had 21 walks and scored 27 runs. His slugging percentage was .614.
“David has just scratched the surface of his ability,” Lamerato said. “He’s one of the most talented players in Oakland County.
“He has been extremely focused and is going to have a fantastic season. Also an excellent first basemen, he will excel in center.”
Senior Jevon Shaw, who played center field last year, sustained a knee injury late in the football season and is not healthy enough to play baseball. Vinsky is a more than capable replacement, Lamerato said.
Char will start at shortstop and will be the catcher when Bell is pitching. He batted .287 with 13 RBI. Char, who will hit in the leadoff position, also had 21 walks and 30 stolen bases.
“Like David Vinsky, Jared had a great off season, and I expect him to have a great season,” Lamerato said. “He has done a great job of playing shortstop this spring.”
In addition to taking a turn on the mound, Janigian and Williams will start at the corners of the infield – Janigian at first base and Williams at third.
Janigian hit .274 with six doubles, one triple and nine RBI. He returns at first base and will be the clean-up hitter. As a pitcher, he was 2-1 and had 26 strikeouts in 232/3 innings.
“Nico is a versatile player who can play all the outfield positions and also is our third catcher,” Lamerato said.
Williams was hurt most of last year, but he can be a powerful hitter at 6-foot-5 and 200-plus pounds.
“I expect good things from Tommy,” Lamerato said. “He’s a very talented hitter and more than capable of playing solid defense at third.”
At 6-foot-10 and 240 pounds, Rexroth can be an imposing figure on the mound. He had a 0.97 ERA in 212/3 innings, and he’ll also be the backup first baseman.
“At his height, he is right on top of the batters and rolls off a lot of ground balls,” Lamerato said.
Junior Andrew Brown and sophomore Nick Cassar were competing to be the second baseman. Brown is another relief pitcher and will play shortstop when Char is behind the plate. Cassar was injured and missed most of last season.
The corner outfield positions are likely to be filled by senior Raymond Klimas and sophomore Caleb Salaam in left and right field, respectively. Both are returning varsity players.
Klimas has the ability to make things happen at the bottom of the order, Lamerato said. Salaam, who will pitch in relief, can do the same as a left-handed hitter with speed.
The roster also includes juniors Alex Bolstrum, Anthony Slatin and Jacob Rubenstein, sophomores Brian Janigian and Jimmy O’Connor and freshman Trey Walker.
The Hawks finished third in the OAA White Division with an 8-7 record and were one game out of first place. They were 15-13 overall.
Harrison began the season Tuesday with a division doubleheader at West Bloomfield and will play host to the Lakers for a single game today.
“I’m going to be very optimistic with our deep pitching staff and returning core,” Lamerato said. “Offensively, we should again be a good hitting team.
“I look forward to the upcoming season with the opportunity to continue to improve as a program and build upon what we’ve had going for us the last few years.
“Our goal is to finally win our league. With our pitching, we will definitely be there at the end. The team has set lofty goals, and we have great expectations for this season.”