By Mike Wertman
Medina Journal-Register — MIDDLEPORT - After finishing in the runner-up spot the last two years, Roy-Hart returns a solid nucleus of veterans with which to make a strong challenge for top Niagara-Orleans League baseball honors this spring.
Senior pitcher/shortstop Judd Jamieson, who earned first team N-O All-League honors last spring, and freshman shortstop Andy Xapsos, a second team honoree, head Roy-Hart’s veteran contingent.
That veteran group also includes seniors Ryan Farewell (pitcher), Blake Copella (first base) and Nick Morse (outfield); juniors Evan Conley (outfield) and Austin Heschke (outfield) and sophomore Josh Baptiste (catcher).
“We’ve still got the sticks and we’re solid defensively, that’s our strength,” said coach John Grzymala. “And we’re quick so we’re going to try and use our speed to hit and run.”
The big hole to fill is on the mound with the loss to graduation of the first team All-League pitching duo of Ryan Metz and Zach Yates.
“Those were big losses so it’s going to be pitching by committee for us this season,” said Grzymala.
The Rams roster also includes seniors Kevin Bligh and Drew Hull; juniors John O’Brien, Nich DiNardo and Brian Guild along with sophomores Aaron Metz, Craig Fitch, Andrew Jacobs and Luke Tyler.
For the second year in a row, Roy-Hart will tune up for the N-O campaign with a preseason trip down South. This time the Rams will play four games next week in Myrtle Beach, S.C. three will be against teams from New Jersey and one against Frewsburg, which reached the state semifinals last spring.
“We’ll definitely be playing some tough competition. Our pitchers will get in some good innings and we’ll get plenty of live at-bats so that should help us be better game-ready when we get back,” Grzymala said. “It’s a good experience. It brings the team together. We feed off each others’ energy and play for one another. That’s why we’re successful.”
Roy-Hart, which went 11-3 in N-O competition last year, second only to champion Albion (13-1), is slated to open league competition at home on April 12 against CSAT.
“I think the league is wide open this year,” Grzymala said. “You can’t take anyone for granted. For us it’s a matter of playing together for the win. It takes everyone.”ROY-HART RAMS COACH: John Grzymala LAST YEAR: 11-3 (N-O) KEY LOSSES: Ryan Metz (pitcher), Zach Yates (pitcher), Connor Baker (infield), Aaron Brigham (first base) KEY RETURNEES: Judd Jamieson (Sr., pitcher/shortstop), Josh Baptiste (So., catcher), Evan Conley (Jr., outfield), Andy Xapsos (Fr., shortstop), Blake Copella (Sr., first base), Ryan Farewell (Sr., pitcher), Austin Heschke (Jr., outfield), Nick Morse (Sr., outfield) SCHEDULE March 29-April 6 - Four games in Myrtle Beach, S.C. April 12 - CSAT, 4:45 p.m. April 16 - Medina, 4:45 p.m. April 7 - at Tonawanda, 4:45 p.m. April 19 - at Akron, 4:45 p.m. April 22 - at Newfane, 4:45 p.m. April 25 - Albion, 4:45 p.m. April 27 - at Barker, 12 p.m. April 30 - at Wilson, 4:45 p.m. May 2 - Wilson, 4:45 p.m. May 3 - at CSAT, 4:45 p.m. May 6 - at Medina, 4:45 p.m. May 9 - Akron, 4:45 p.m. May 11 - Newfane, 2 p.m. at Albion May 14 - at Albion, 4:45 p.m. May 16 - Barker, 4:45 p.m.