Lakeland head coach Larry Piccini has reason to believe the Chiefs can improve on last season’s 8-8 record and second round exit in the district playoffs.
The reason: experience. Lakeland returns eight starters including their ace pitcher, Eric Grabowski.
“With our experience and promising newcomers, I expect to be very competitive this season,” Piccini said.
The Chiefs bring back left fielder Chris Roche, center fielder Joey Natale, first baseman/designated hitter Cody Delfino, second baseman/shortstop Josh Natale, first baseman/pitcher Shane Rivenburgh, pitcher/shortstop Eric Grabowski pitcher/shortstop, catcher James Blevins, and right fielder Tyler Brady.
The lone starter that graduated from last season was outfielder Alex Filarsky.
Returning left fielder Alan Rudalavage, and newcomers Kyle Kiehart, who is expected to contribute as a pitcher, second baseman, and outfider, and Jimmy Hayes, who should see time at second base are the other key members of the team.
The Chiefs opened their league season with a 2-1 win over Dunmore in which Grabowksi struck out 15 batters.
“So far our pitching staff has done a good job throwing strikes and pitching to contact,” Piccini said. “Our defense has been solid up to this point. If we continue to throw strikes and make routine plays we will be in every game. At times, we swung the bats well during the presason, but we need to have better situational hitting.”