ST. CLAIR TWP. — After losing 11 players to graduation, Edgewood High School baseball coach Ralph Lunsford said the future is a great unknown for the Cougars heading into the new season.
“Unfortunately, my crystal ball is broken,” he joked. “We are really, really young but we work hard. We are young, but we are not stupid. I love our wisdom and attitude. You take our wisdom with our attitude and add our talent and put it all together, I think we will be all right.”
The Cougars finished 11-12 overall and 8-4 in the Southwest Ohio Conference a year ago. Ross won the SWOC, with the Cougars, Harrison and Talawanda in a three-way tie for second place.
Lunsford — who spent six years at New Miami winning four Miami Valley Conference titles before coming to EHS last season — said his squad will be a work in progress, but could threaten for the conference title.
“I would like to think we can compete for the SWOC,” Lunsford said.
Despite a lack of experience, he said his team will battle led by senior Tyler Fields, who has taken on a big leadership role.
“He is not even the same kid as last year,” Lunsford said of Fields, who will play multiple positions. “He has been great for this young team.”
In addition to Fields, senior catcher Corbin Craft will also be asked to lead.
Lunsford said he is unsure who will be the Cougars’ ace pitcher this year, but added that Edgewood has eight or nine guys who can take the mound.
“We have three pitchers who I like, but really, we have all but two players who have pitched at the high school level,” Lunsford said.
Sophomore Mason Whiteley and junior Alex Gavern will both pitch and play middle infield.
A pair of sophomores, Nolan Boyle and Hayden Hellard, along with seniors Kody McCarley and twins Kody and Dylan Marcum, will all see varsity time at multiple spots, according to Lunsford.
He said junior Shane Watts will play first base, junior Bryce Davis will see infield time and junior Connor Beckman will patrol center field.
“We are not deep, but the guys I have, they get after it,” Lunsford said. “This is quickly becoming my favorite team. These guys work hard, hang out after, but their maturity level sets them apart. They know they can goof off and then flip the switch and get back to work.”
Filling out the roster are juniors Elijah Hardesty and Max Collett, and sophomores Connor Kenney, Corvaughn Renfro and Luke Mallaley.
Edgewood opens the season at home against Hamilton on March 23 at 5 p.m.