Well-armed in recent years, Findlay High School’s baseball team may well be looking to outscore opponents rather than outpitch them this season.
Jeff Stutzman begins his 12th season as FHS coach looking to rebuild a pitching staff hit hard by graduation. Over the past two years, the Trojans have had both the Three Rivers Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year as well as another all-league hurler, starting with Connor Curlis (Ohio State) and Chandler Stillings (Bowling Green) in 2015 and continuing with Stillings (2016 pitcher of the year) and Max Rinebolt (second-team all-TRAC) last season. Stillings was 3-3 with a 0.81 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 52 innings; Rinebolt was 3-5 with a 1.69 ERA and 36 Ks.
Cam Dillon and Avery Wirt are the top returning veterans on the staff. Both went 1-3 last season, with Dillon posting an ERA of 4.14 and Wirt 5.53. Sam Federici, Tyler Lydick and Nate Miller (if fully recovered from knee surgery) will also take a turn on the mound, along with Todd Federici and Jacob Pepple.
The other half of the battery will have Sam Federici, a senior, junior Michael Leonard and sophomore Nick Kidwell competing for time behind the plate.
“We lost a lot of pitching from last year, but should be okay,” Stutzman commented. “We have to hit better. If we hit and manufacture some runs we should be able to compete with anyone.
“We’re young, but should be exciting to watch and we’re only going to get better as the season goes on.”
Rinebolt, who batted .293 with a team-leading 15 RBI, was also one of Findlay’s top hitters during last year’s 11-15 season, along with Trevor Volpp (.255, 5 RBI), Grant Akin (.293, 15 runs, 7 RBI), Luke Cosiano (.256), Matt Pochard (.212) and Aaron Elchert (.210, 6 RBI).
Dillon returns as one of Findlay’s top offensive threats after hitting .269 with three doubles and 8 RBI. He will play second when not on the mound, with Anthony Gonzalez (.182, 4 RBI) at first, Miller as short and Eric Johnson at third. Johnson could move to short if Miller is not 100 percent, with Lydick (2nd) and Brayden Shindledecker (1st) also seeing time around the infield.
Phillip Bibler and Carter Fox will man positions in center and right field, with Todd Federici in left. Dillon, Aaron Kupferberg and Wirt will see time in the outfield as well.
Sophomore outfielders Jeremiah Snyder and Drew Parish will likely see varsity action as well, along with freshmen infielders Patrick Dillon and Ethan Canterbury.
Toledo St. Francis and Toledo St. John’s would appear to be the teams to beat in the race for the Three Rivers Athletic Conference crown. St. Francis returns five first- and/or second-team all-league players from last year’s TRAC championship team. St. John’s, which won three of the four TRAC titles before St. Francis wrestled the crown away last season, has four first- and second-team all leaguers back.
Findlay kicks off the season with home games against Lima Bath on Saturday and Sylvania Northview on March 30. The Trojans then play four of their next five games on the road, including TRAC games at Oregon Clay on April 5, at Toledo St. John’s on April 10, and at Toledo Whitmer on April 12.
2017 FINDLAY HIGH BASEBALL SCHEDULE
March 25 — Lima Bath (DH) 11 a.m.
March 30 — Sylvania Northview 5 p.m.
April 5 — at Oregon Clay (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 7 — Toledo Central Catholic (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 8 — at Bowling Green (DH) noon
April 10 — at Toledo St. John’s (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 12 — at Toledo Whitmer (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 14 — Lima Senior (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 15 — Springfield/Hilliard Darby (DH) 1 p.m.
April 17 — at Toledo St. Francis (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 19 — at Fremont Ross (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 21– Oregon Clay (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 22 — at Napoleon 11 a.m.
April 24 — at Tol. Central Catholic (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 26 — Toledo St. John’s (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 27 — at Lima Shawnee 5 p.m.
April 28 — Toledo Whitmer (TRAC) 5 p.m.
April 29 — Bryan (DH) 11 a.m.
May 1 — Toledo St. Francis (TRAC) 5 p.m.
May 2 — at Lima Senior (TRAC) 5 p.m.
May 8 — at Defiance 5 p.m.
May 10 — Fremont Ross (TRAC) 5 p.m.