HUNTINGDON, Pa. - Second-year head coach Adam Sheibley and the Juniata baseball team will begin the 2017 season with a doubleheader at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Welcoming a young team, with no seniors on the roster, Sheibley believes it provides enthusiasm for this year and the years to come. "We focused a lot on teaching and breaking the game down in the fall and during our practices this spring," he said. "Having a young team instills a sense of excitement in the program about our future and seeing how everyone is developing and improving."
Isaac Kline (Everett, Pa./Bedford) is pegged as one of the Eagles' top returners. "He had a successful freshman season and has the stuff to be one of the best pitchers in the league." The sophomore started nine games in the 2016 season, including one complete game, and finished his freshman campaign with a 4.80 ERA. His 54.1 innings pitched and 37 strikeouts led the team. When the righty isn't on the hill, Kline will play second base as he did last season.
On the mound, the Eagles are also relying on returners Jesse Beeler (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) and Caleb Pepperday (Phillipsburg, Pa./Phillipsburg-Osceola). Beeler threw 53.2 innings last season as a sophomore, including a team-high three complete games. Pepperday followed with 40.2 innings on the mound, making seven starts out of his 13 appearances. "They know what to expect and can help prepare our young staff," said Sheibley.
With 14 freshmen on the roster, Sheibley expects the freshmen arms to log a lot of innings on the mound. "How they perform early in the year will help our coaching staff determine what role they may be in," he said. Drew Harshbarger (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union), Josiah Lynn (Beggs, OK/Classical Conversations Homeschool) and Austin Suders (Marion, Pa./Chambersburg Area) will see starting opportunities early in the season, especially in Florida. Gavin Grimaldi (Clymer, Pa./Penns Manor), Jerry Hobbs (Scranton, Pa./Old Forge), Adam Kipp (Mt. Wolf, Pa./Northeastern) and Alek Vujanic (Bel Air, Md./Patterson Mill) will likely start in the bullpen, but may find their way to starting roles throughout the season.
After the doubleheader at Eastern Mennonite University, Juniata will face Baldwin Wallace, Pitt. –Bradford and Bridgewater the following weekend in Virginia. They will then compete in the Russ Matt Invitational down in Florida from March 5-March 10, playing eight games.