Hopes are high this spring as an experienced and talented baseball team takes the field for another season.
Eight seniors return to a squad that ended last season in second place in the Downriver League, finishing with an overall record of 21-12.
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0) are already out to a good start this year, sweeping a doubleheader with Dearborn Heights Annapolis last week and on Monday.
The backbone of Trenton this year will likely be its pitching staff, as head coach Todd Szalka said he has five strong arms that can all get the job done.
Leading the staff will be senior Blake Wojtala, who won six games last year, striking out 52 batters and posting a 2.72 ERA.
Also taking the mound for Trenton this year will be senior Aaron Florios and juniors Jordan Conti, Garret Vandenberg and Wes Sorenson.
Conti and senior Derek Berger will share time at first base, while senior Chad Hamilton and Sorenson will share time at third. Wojtala, Florios and juniors Jake Smith and Nate Donovan will all see time at second or shortstop, Szalka said, depending upon who is on the mound.
The starting catcher for the Trojans will be senior Eric Trombley; a player Szalka said was extremely dependable in 2011.
“He started over 30 games behind the plate for us last year,” Szalka said. “He’s solid.”
Backing up Trombley will be junior Billy Bain.
Senior Guy Ellis will play center field for the Trojans, while Vandenberg will play right when he is not on the mound.
Senior Brandon Charping, junior Eric Szczepaniak and Smith could all see time in the outfield as well, Szalka said.
Big seasons at the plate could come from Wojtala, Berger, Ellis, Conti, Florios and Vandenberg, Szalka said.
Last season, both Wojtala and Berger hit over .300, while Berger also led the team in RBIs with 31. Conti, as a sophomore, was third on the team last year in RBIs with 20, while Florios was fourth, knocking in 15.
Vandenberg, who contributed heavily last season as a sophomore, is out to a fast start this year, getting five hits and recording five stolen bases in last week’s doubleheader against Annapolis.
New Bat Regulations
One thing that could slow Trenton hitters down, however, is a new regulation created this season to help reduce batted-ball related injuries among pitchers and corner infielders.
U.S. high school teams must now use bats that will produce hit balls traveling at a lower rate of speed. To accomplish this, all bats used must be certified to have a Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) of less than .5 percent, a standard already being used by NCAA baseball.
With batted balls traveling slower, Szalka said, offensive production in high school baseball will likely decrease, ultimately creating a stronger emphasis on pitching and defense.
“With these new bats, the name of the game is going to be having your pitchers pump the (strike) zone and throw strikes and challenge the opposing team to let them get themselves out,” Szalka said. “It’s going to be a little bit harder for teams to club themselves back into a ballgame.”
Szalka said he believes his squad has a good shot at capturing the Downriver League title, despite some tough competition. Strong league foes include last year’s champion, Southgate Anderson, as well as Allen Park, both of which have returned several key players from last season.
“I think we have as good of a shot at winning the league as anybody,” Szalka said. Southgate and Allen Park will be tough. We’re definitely up for the challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”
As for the postseason, last year’s squad was bounced early in district playoffs by .
Wojtala, who is a senior in his final months of an incredible high school athletic career, said he and his teammates want a more memorable end to this baseball season.
“Being a senior, you always want to finish strong,” Wojtala said. “The team knows we need to finish strong, so we are concentrating on hard work and getting ready for districts.”