By David Fong
TROY — Hanging in Ty Welker’s classroom at Troy High School are a series of framed photographs, each one picturing a different group of Troy baseball players dog-piling on top of one another following a big victory for the Trojans.
In the past four years, the Trojans have won two Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division titles, three Division I sectional championships and a Division I district crown. Welker is hoping to add to his collection of photos again this year with another title of some sort.
This year, however, he’s going to have to do it with almost an entirely new lineup, as the Trojans graduated nine seniors off last year’s team.
Which is fine by Welker — the faces may have changed at Troy, but the expectations have not.
“We lost nine seniors, which sounds daunting, but we feel like we have a lot of talent coming back,” Welker said. “There’s a reason why we kept nine juniors on JV last year — because we knew we would need them this year. We’ve got 12 seniors on this year’s team, which is the most we’ve ever had.
“We’ve got talent. We are as athletic as we’ve been in the last three or four years. We just don’t have a lot of varsity experience. But the mentality of this program has not changed. We still expect to compete within our division and in the postseason.”
One position where the Trojans do return a fair amount of experience is at pitcher, where seniors Jordan Peck and Jared Bair, along with junior Hayden Kotwica, should see much of the starting duties.
“Those three guys will be our main starters,” Welker said. “Peck got a lot of innings last year. Blair is a big lefty who also got a lot of innings last year. I think Kotwica is going to be fighting for more Monday-Tuesday (when Troy plays its North Division games) games this year. We feel pretty confident in any of those three guys starting for us.”
Seniors Troy Moore, Justin O’Neill, Austin Barney and Noah Roswell, along with sophomore Brandon Emery and freshman Jacob Adams, will round out the pitching staff for the Trojans.
“Troy hasn’t played the last two years, but we are glad to have him back,” Welker said. “Justin O’Neill was our No. 1 JV pitcher last season. Austin Barney got a lot of JV innings last year; he throws hard. Noah Roswell was injured most of last year, but looks healthy now. Adams and Emery are two younger kids who we are going to try to get some innings.”
Senior Tyler Lambert returns at catcher for the Trojans. He’ll be backed up by senior Joe McGillivary, sophomore Keiran Williams and junior Chaz Copas.
“Lambert stepped in last year and started 28 games for us when our starting catcher got hurt at the beginning of the season,” Welker said. “That’s been a blessing in disguise for us this year, because he was able to get that experience last year. He’s really grown a lot in the offseason.”
Bair will man first base when he’s not pitching. When he’s on the mound, sophomore Jake Daniel and Roswell will play first base. At second base will be some combination of Moore, Adams and Emery. At shortstop will be either Emery or Adams. At third base will be Peck or senior Alex Riedel.
“We lost a lot of experience in the infield — particularly in the middle part of the infield,” Welker said. “But the new guys have really done a nice job and are learning. We lost experience, but we are just as athletic as we have been. It’s just going to be a matter of how quickly those new guys pick things up.”
Kotwica will man center field when he’s not pitching; senior Drake McDonagh will be there when Kotwica is on the mound. McDonagh also could start in left field, while senior Jacob Curcio could see time there, as well. In right field will be either Barney or O’Neill.
“We’re excited for the season,” Welker said. “We are ready to get things started. The kids have a great attitude.”
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong