Look for coach Joe Foltz to turn out another outstanding version of South Carroll baseball this spring.
Foltz lost his three top pitchers and some outstanding hitters from last season but there is still a lot of talent on the Cavaliers squad that will be seeking a fourth straight Carroll County title and a third consecutive Central Maryland Conference championship.
Foltz admits his defense is strong and he likes his three starting pitchers. All he needs is the same kind of luck last season's 18-2 squad had and for his hitters to come through.
"We're going to be good defensively," he said. "Most kids can field, catch and throw. It's the hitting I'm worried about. All we've done most of the preseason is hit off a machine indoors."
And what about the luck?
"We had quite a bit of luck last year," Foltz said. "We were losing by two runs to Westminster with two out in the last inning and a runner on second. They intentionally walked Charlie [Kuykendall, who hit .508 last year] to get to Scott Carter, who tripled two runs home to tie it and we went on to win the game."
The numbers tell just how good South Carroll was last season.
The Cavaliers beat always-tough Westminster three times on the way to an 8-0 record in the county, won the CMC with a 12-0 mark and were rolling along with a 16-0 record before losing their only two games of the season to Thomas Johnson.
The second loss was a very costly one, coming by a 6-4 score in the championship game of the Class 3A, Region III tournament. The first setback to TJ was by one run, 5-4, in the second game of a doubleheader.
Gone from last year are seven starters, including pitchers Joey Goodwin (6-1), Steve Schulze (6-1) and Mike Downs (3-0). Goodwin was also a catcher, and he led the team with a .509 batting average, prompting the Orioles to draft him in the 49th round and earning him a full scholarship to George Mason University.
Schulze, a shortstop when he wasn't pitching, batted .439.
Other top hitters who have graduated are shortstop Jamie Unglesbee (.428), second baseman Eric Hood (.370) and outfielder Mike Cunningham (.324).
Losses like that would devastate some programs. But not the South Carroll baseball machine.
Kuykendall, a senior left fielder, is back for his final season with a .441 career average in three seasons with the Cavaliers.
Senior catcher Brian Yanick brings a .384 career average and a strong arm back to the team. Yanick was timed in 1.85 seconds in getting the ball to second base in a Cincinnati Reds tryout camp last summer.
Most of the pitching will be handled by senior right-handers Steve Browning and Ron Garrett and junior left-hander Mike Wisniewski, who is a transfer from McDonogh School.
Browning and Garrett pitched 12 innings between them last season, and Wisniewski pitched on the McDonogh junior varsity team for two seasons.
"I think these guys are pretty good," said Foltz of his new pitching staff. "I'm not worried about them."
Junior Brad Schulze, brother of the departed Steve Schulze, returns at third base after hitting .275 last season. Sophomore Jeremy Hancock and Browning also are expected to play third at times.
Junior Tim Beck will be at shortstop and sophomore Brian Hershey has the inside track on second base. Garrett will play either short or second when not pitching.
Senior Jeff Baker is set at first base, and Kuykendall will be joined in the outfield on a rotating basis by seniors Rob Morris and Ryan Hooper and sophomores Greg Mihalko and Ronnie White.
It looks as if the rest of the county will chase South Carroll again.