With four returning starters from last year, Mentor heads into the 2022 season eyeing a fifth-straight district championship.
The Cardinals finished 20-9 overall and 9-3 in the Greater Cleveland Conference last spring and enter the new season with similar expectations.
“We are young but have a great group of guys,” said Mentor coach Jeff Haase. “We will have to mature quickly in order to make some noise come tournament time. We have a good pitching staff and that will have to carry us until the hitters come around. I think with the returners we have plus a strong core of underclassmen, we should be able to compete for our fifth district title in a row.”
Mentor will lean on its veteran pitching staff to set the tone, especially early in the season, and the Cardinals plan to be aggressive on the base paths.
“We may have more guys that can run this year than we have ever had,” Haase said.
Mentor’s projected startling lineup includes three seniors, four juniors, and three sophomores.
The seniors include catcher A.J. Moses, first baseman Steve Nedlik, a Heidelberg University signee who will split time with sophomore Tyler Miles, and center fielder Randy Saley, a Walsh University signee.
Mentor’s juniors include second baseman Caleb Pohto, third baseman Colin Orosz, right fielder Kaydn Burkholder, and DH Cole Hemminger. The sophomores are Miles, shortstop Payton Zupancic, and left fielder Nick Square.
Hemminger is projected to be the ace of the pitching staff while sophomore Tyler Milnes, Nedlik, Zupancic, and sophomore Caden Risma round out the rotation.
“(Our) biggest challenge is experience,” Haase said. “We could run a lineup out there with all sophomores and juniors. The best way to overcome it is to play and get better every day. We just have to play the game in front of us not look ahead and learn from mistakes.”