When the folks at Union Local High School went searching for a new baseball coach after Mark Cisar stepped down following last season, they didn't have to go far to find someone who knew about the Jets' tradition on the diamond.
In Christopher ''Pec'' Schmitt, Union Local has a skipper well-versed on, not only what it takes to be a Jet, but what it takes to be a solid baseball player.
The former UL standout is ready to go with a group interspersed with veterans and newcomers.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
PICTURED ARE the key returnees for the Union Local baseball team. Front row, from left, are Shane Kinney, Matt Dunfee, Lane Perkins and Griffey Girty. Back row, from left, are Travis James, Eric Dunfee, Tristan Bruce and Cody Burnett.
''We have to come out of the gates ready to go,'' Schmitt said. ''Our schedule is tough, but we are up for the challenge.
''Our players are working hard and are determined to improve from a year ago (6-18). We need a couple of key guys to step up and be leaders on the field.''
Starters back in the fold in Morristown are Eric Dunfee, Cody Burnett, Travis James, Matt Dunfee, Griffey Girty and Tristen Bruce. Other returning letterwinners include Lane Perkins and Shane Kinney.
Dunfee, a senior, is Schmitt's projected ace on the mound. Bruce, another senior, is tabbed for the closer role. Dunfee and Girty, both juniors, are the other pitchers, along with Jacob Dunfee, a freshman.
When he's not pitching, Dunfee will be in the outfield, along with juniors Logan Smith and Isaac Hearn, and senior captain James.
''He's our leadoff guy, and if he gets on, we're going to be aggressive with him,'' Schmitt said.
Two players are in the mix behind the plate - Burnett, a senior, and sophomore Bobby Stewart.
''Cody does the small things correctly,'' Schmitt said. ''He has a very strong arm and will start at catcher.''
Matt Dunfee, a junior captain, leads the outfield unit.
''He will start out batting cleanup,'' Schmitt said. ''He hits the ball really well and wee need him to have a big season.''
Girty, a junior, will be at first, while freshman Shane Smolenak is the projected starter at second.
Bruce, a senior, is the shortstop.
''I like what I've seen so far at the plate from him,'' Schmitt said of Bruce. ''He batted over .350 last year and we're looking forward to him having a breakout season.''
Juniors Shane Kinney, Dalton Toto and Perkins, along with freshman Nick Bilyeu, round out the infielders.
Other players aiming to make an impact include juniors Lucas Robb and Jason Turner, sophomores Matt Withrow, Bradley Huntsman, Isaac Goodman, Timmy Powell and Trace Roby, and freshmen Zach Lucas, Dalton Clay, Austin Koscoe and TJ Kelley.
Schmitt is assisted by Bill Timko, Jordan Barbina, Darrick Phillips and Bryan Butler.
Union Local's schedule is as follows. All times are 5 p.m. unless noted.
March 29 - at Magnolia (DH), Noon; March 31 - St. Clairsville; April 2 - at St. Clairsville; April 4 - Martins Ferry; April 5 - at John Marshall (DH), Noon; April 7 - at Martins Ferry; April 8 - at Oak Glen; April 9 - Harrison Central; April 11 - at Harrison Central; April 14 - Buckeye Local (at Consol Energy Park), 7 p.m.; April 16 - Buckeye Local; April 18 - at Bridgeport, 7 p.m.; April 19 - at Edison (DH), 11 a.m.; April 21 - Indian Creek; April 22 - Oak Glen; April 23 - at Indian Creek; April 26 - OVAC Semifinals or at Bellaire, Noon; April 28 - Bellaire; April 29 - Magnolia; April 30 - Barnesville; May 1 - Bridgeport; May 2 - OVAC Championship; May 5 - at Barnesville, 4:30 p.m.; May 7 - at Steubenville.