QZ93 Sports

Golden Eagles aiming for return to PIAA title game

In Baseball, District 6, LHAC, Somerset on March 20, 2009 at 6:00 am

A season ago, the Somerset baseball team wrapped up its campaign on a sour note. After their magical run to the Class AAA PIAA championship game, the Golden Eagles came up a bit short. This year, many of those same players are back and the Golden Eagles are aiming again for the grand stage.

“We just want to pick up and go,” said Somerset coach Steve Costea in an interview with QZ93 Sports. “Last year was a magical run. But it’s Somerset baseball. Play hard-nosed and be in every game. When playoffs come, hopefully we can make another run. Most of these kids were in it last year, and this year we want to go out and play with confidence and play Somerset baseball.”

It will all start on the mound for Somerset, which has right-handers Brett Christner, Anthony Papini and Ryan Fisher among the mound leaders. Each is a senior, and the experience factor is there for the Golden Eagles, who may work a couple of sophomores – Myles Ream and Cameron Darr – into the mix.

“The pitching’s been real strong,” said Costea, whose team finished 19-7 a season ago. “It’s even stronger than we anticipated. We’re throwing strikes and changing speeds well. We have two scrimmages in already and the pitching has been a big surprise to us. We played 20-21 innings of baseball and had five walks.

“If you throw strikes and play defense, you’ll be in every game and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

The Golden Eagles begin their season at home on Tuesday, when Central Cambria makes a visit. It’s a tough Section I foe, and the game starts a season of challenges against fellow Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference teams. And some of the toughest tests will come within the Golden Eagles’ own section.

“Especially in Section II, you have to show up and play every day,” said Costea, who begins his 16th year leading the varsity squad. “You can’t have an off day or you will lose. There is a lot of parity in the league. Everyone had two or three guys that can play real well. From there your supporting staff has to be there. You have to go out, play at a high level every time because everybody can beat everybody.”

Somerset will look to swing the bats well again this year. The Golden Eagles have a host of players that can move runners around the basepaths. But there’s also a couple that can play longball.

Chase Dykstra returns for the Golden Eagles, and will bat in the leadoff spot. He also brings a ton of speed to the lineup and to his spot in centerfield. Shortstop Joe Foltz and pitcher/first baseman Cody Hemminger should also provide some pop in the batting order.

“We are going to have to move guys around and play station-to-station baseball. We have to make sure we do our job at the plate and when the situation comes up, you have to do the right thing with the bat.”

If all that goes well, perhaps Somerset can find itself back at Blair County Ballpark for another run at the PIAA gold.

BY MATT JORDAN
matt@qz93sports.com

Note: This is the second in a series of stories profiling local baseball teams as the season gets started.

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