STRATTANVILLE, Pa. – With only four players returning from when the Clarion-Limestone baseball team last took the field in 2019, the Lions will be looking to youth and overcoming inexperience as they enter the 2021 season under the direction of head coach Todd Smith.
(Archived Photo by: Christie Datko)
“Losing last season was tough, especially for our seniors,” said Smith. “We were excited for last season because we felt we had a talented team coming back after winning the KSAC title in 2019. As for this year, we are still trying to prepare like we always do. We have had some issues with multiple quarantines, so we haven’t had our whole group together yet. We are doing the best we can with who we have coming to practice each day.”
Hayden Callen is the lone senior returning, so the Lions do have a solid player to build around. Callen batted .463 with 19 RBIs in 2019. He also led the team in wins with six on the mound while compiling a 1.24 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched.
Junior Bryson Huwar logged the second-most innings with 21 while earning two wins. He had a 2.30 ERA with 32 strikeouts. Huwar also batted .366.
“Hayden and Bryson return as our top two pitchers,” said Smith. “Both carried our team on the mound two years ago. This season we are excited about freshman Tommy Smith and juniors Brady Fowkes and Corbin Coulson. All three of these guys have shown a lot in practice, and I think could give us a nice pitching rotation.”
Coach Smith feels that most of his defensive lineup is set with only a battle in left field being up for grabs before the start of the season. Sophomore Jordan Hesdon is expected to the catcher, freshman Nick Aaron at first base, sophomore Ryan Hummell at second base, Callen or Huwar at shortstop depending on who is pitching, junior Brady Fowkes (.308 avg. in 11 games in 2019) will play third base. Freshman Tommy Smith will play center field while junior Corbin Coulson (.250 avg. in 10 games in 2019) will play right field. Left field is a battle between Jake Smith (Fr.), Jack Craig (Fr.), and John Burke (So.).
“Hayden and Bryson will rotate at shortstop depending on who is pitching. They both had great seasons two years ago, and both are outstanding players. They were both all-conference players,” said Smith. “Ryan Hummell is an excellent athlete with a good glove, and he has shown he can drive the ball. Brady Fowkes has a strong arm at third, and we’re hoping his bat continues as it did two years ago. As a freshman, Nick Aaron has already shown a nice glove at first base, and he’s shown to be a steady player. Jordan Hesdon is a very versatile athlete who could play a variety of positions. He has good speed and has already shown some power at the plate. We are really excited about Tommy Smith as he can really cover some ground in the outfield, and he can also drive the ball. Corbin Coulson is a smooth baseball player who is an excellent outfielder, and he can also play first base. We have a three-way battle for the left-field position between two freshmen in Jake Smith and Jack Craig and sophomore John Burke. Michael Snyder, a junior, will serve as our designated hitter as he has shown a lot of power at the plate.”
As far as the goals for this season, Smith feels he will need to try and keep them as simple as possible due to having a very young team.
“We feel good about our team,” said Smith. “With only one senior, we are pretty young. I expect this will be a team that will continue to get better as the season go along. It is a group of super nice kids, so it’s been fun going to practice every day. We will take it a game at a time, but ultimately we would like to be in the KSAC and District 9 contention for a championship.”
Senior: Hayden Callen
Juniors: Corbin Coulson, Brady Fowkes, Bryson Huwar, Michael Snyder.
Sophomores: Jordan Hesdon, Ryan Hummell, Brady Henry, John Burke, Korbin Kemmer.
Freshmen: Tommy Smith, Nick Aaron, Jack Craig, Jake Smith.