Head coach Jason McManus speaks very highly of the Penn State Wilkes-Barre baseball tradition. He wants to turn the program back into their winning ways, just like it was when he played for the Mountain Lions in 1991 and 1992. McManus said, "We need to take small steps to get there. There is a lot of excitement within the team with the attitude changes I have brought back into the program. It's this same energy and passion we will need to tap into to turn this program around, and start winning again." Once the team starts having quality seasons the recruits will come and the team will continue to be successful again.
In order to improve from last season the team, is focusing on every aspect of the mechanics of pitching, hitting, and defense. Coach McManus says, "We try not to focus on just one aspect of the game; however we realize that pitching and defense win championships." The pitchers must be able to get their pitch counts up and pitch deep into games. The team is currently in their second week of indoor practice. Some of the training consists of running, hitting off pitch machines, and fielding mechanics. McManus always stresses that the main part of practice is to work hard and have fun.
The pitching staff looks very strong this season for the Mountain Lions. Matt Kempinksi is returning for his senior season and will provide leadership, while Ron Missal and Mike Tierney will provide depth and give the team a solid rotation 1-3. The other pitching spots are up for grabs. The defense will need to be another priority this season. "We need to minimize the amount of errors while capitalizing on the other teams' mistakes" says Coach McManus. The leadership of the upperclassmen will be extremely helpful this season in order for the team to become successful. Matt Kempinski (P/SS-SR), Ed Moffet (C-SO), Kyle Colarusso (SO) and Mike Tierney (SO/JR) are a few of the leaders on this team.
The freshman class will be pivotal this season as they are the future of the program. Richie Portugal (OF-Delaware Valley) can run like a cheetah and has an amazing arm. Kerry Meyers (2b-State College) has one of the best left handed swings that McManus has seen in a long time. Steven Ash (IF/P/C-Tunkhannock) is probably one of most flexible athletes. He will add depth to our pitching staff, as well as the catching position. Eric Ringsdorf (1b/C-Holy Redeemer) will provide power from the left side of the plate, as well as depth at first base and catcher. Tyler Loftus (C- Pittston Area) has a nice arm and blocking mechanics behind the plate, and he too will compete for a catching position. Jon Aston (P/OF- Pittston Area) and Robert Reilly (P/OF/IF-Meyers) will also both compete for a starting pitching rotation spot. Jeremy McDonald (IF/OF- Hanover Area) will add depth to the infield and outfield. Newcomer Ross (SO- P/OF- Meyers) and veteran Nick Carey (So-P/OF-Valley West) will also compete for time on the mound.
At the end of the day, Coach McManus preaches that academics come before baseball. McManus says "If there is ever a time when one of my players needs to study for a test he will accommodate the practice around studying." The team is also holding pizza parties and bowling nights in order to expose themselves to the community. With the hard work from the players and coaches this team will have a successful season.