Cayuga Health Simmons-RockwellTioga State Bank Dandy Mini Marts Valley Sports ReportGUTHRIE SPORTS MED Gannon Associates Williams Auto GroupI-R FCU


Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — With the loss of 10 seniors to graduation, Athens baseball coach Charlie Havens will have a lot of new faces in the line-up during the 2024 season, which kicks off this afternoon at Troy, but he feels good about his freshman class, and his roster.

“We graduated 10 guys last year,” he said. “Nick Grazul and Nick Jacob played a lot last year, and Troy Rosenbloom saw some time toward the end of the season, so we’re really looking at three guys with any varsity experience at all.

“We brought up five freshmen, and it’s a really good group,” Havens noted. “There’s a lot of talent in that freshman class, it’s just going to be a matter of getting them up to speed … coming from junior high to varsity is a pretty good jump, so once we’re able to get them up to speed, I think we’re going to be pretty solid.”

Havens notes the Wildcats have 13 players on varsity, and 14 on the JV team.

“We kept 13 on varsity. If you keep more than 13, it’s really difficult to get everyone into the game at the varsity level,” he said. “If you have 15 or 16 guys on varsity, the only way to get everybody in is if you’re getting your butt kicked, or you’re kicking butt … even at that point, some times the game ends after three or four innings, and it’s tough to get everyone in.”

One thing that remains intact for the Wildcats is Havens’ coaching staff — Andy Podolinkski (pitching coach and JV). James Birney, Dylan Perry, and Steve Kraft.

Freshman Connor Davidson will do the majority of the catching this season, with freshman Brady Flynn, and sophomore Cooper Robinson available to catch as needed.

Jacob will man first base, with freshman Brendan Cooke at second base, sophomore Nick Grazul the primary shortstop, and senior Connor Mosher at short when Grazul is on the mound, and freshman Kamdyn Wheeler at third base.

Junior Troy Rosenbloom will anchor the outfield in center field, with sophomore Eli Chapman in left field, and Robinson and junior Carson Rowe both seeing time in right field.

Flynn and freshman Alex McQuay will serve as utility players, and junior Dylan Saxon will see time first base and DH.

Grazul will be Athens “big-game guy” on the mound, with Mosher, Rowe, Cooke, Wheeler, Saxon, and Jacob also seeing time on the mound.

Once healthy, Rosenbloom will also see innings.

“We’ll confident Nick (Grazul) will step up and be our No. 1 guy,” said Havens. “Once (Troy) Rosenbloom is fully healthy, he’ll be a guy we depend on, too.”

Havens notes lack of varsity at-bats, and innings is a concern heading into the season.

“Our lack of experience is the biggest concern, but I have a lot confidence in this group, they work hard,” he said.

“The freshman who are up were at our open gyms all winter long. They’re coming in with a strong ethic,” noted Havens. “They know the game well.. It’s just matter of getting them up to speed.

“We’re happy with the amount of arms we have,” added Havens.  We’re coming off an 18-2 season where we had four legitimate No. 1 guys … now it’s turned into having more pitchers and they’re going to have to eat some innings as a committee as they get adjusted to pitching at this level.”

Havens believes this team will overcome its shortcomings with its work ethic, and team chemistry.

“There’s a real strong bond here as a team,” said Havens. “You can tell winning is important to them.

“And, there’s a really good work ethic with this team, we’ve been really impressed with that,” he noted. “They want to get extra work all the time, and they’ve been pushing each other.

“They’re eager to learn, and are always asking questions,” added Havens.

“I think we’ll be right in the mix when it’s all said and done,” said Havens.

“I think Troy and Wyalusing are the top two teams, but our division is tough top to bottom,” he noted. “It’s a really competitive league, and there are a lot of new coaches this year.

“We’re opening up at Troy (Tuesday), so we’ll get a good indication of where we’re at right off the bat,” Havens added.


IN PHOTO: Athens coach Charlie Havens at PNC Park last season. … VSR STOCK PHOTO.

You've asked about helping ...
here's your chance. Click HERE