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FROM THE PRESS BOX: A CRYSTAL BALL LOOK AHEAD TO THE 2025 BASEBALL SEASON (2024-06-14)

The 2024 baseball season in the Valley saw two teams qualify for the postseason, and two teams come up short.

A veteran Waverly team posted a 16-6 record in its first run through the STAC, and advanced to the Section IV, Class B championship game.

A young Tioga team was 12-6 this season, and reached the Class C quarterfinals.

Athens, with a roster chock full of sophomores and freshmen, was in the hunt for a postseason until berth until the final week of the season, and ended with an 8-12 record, losing six games by three runs or less.

Sayre team lost five games by two runs or less, and finished the season with a 5-12 record.

With the first pitch of 2025 still 9 1/2 months away, the Crystal Ball is still a bit murky, but here goes.

Athens Wildcats: The Wildcats lose a pair of senior starters (and will reportedly lose another starter to the transfer portal), but return a host of talented youngster, now with at least one year of experience under their belts.

Sophomore Nick Grazul will return as the Athens ace, but seniors Nicholas Jacob and Connor Mosher were 2-3 on the mound. The Wildcats appear to have several arms capable of stepping up to fill in.

Freshman Brendan Cooke hit .412 this year, but the only other returning full-time starter to hit at least .300 was freshman Connor Davidson.

Prediction: Again, most of the Athens team in 2024 were freshmen and sophomores, and they’ll get a few more re-enforcements from the JV ranks, so it’s only natural to think this team will be better in 2025. 2025 record: 12-8 regular season.

Sayre Redskins: The Redskins lose five senior starters, including four of their top five hitters, and three of their top four pitchers.

Sophomore Karter Green, junior Nick Pellicano, and freshman Shaine Strickland return to form a solid core, but will need a lot of help from the JV and junior high ranks.

Prediction: If the transfer portal doesn’t rear its ugly head, the Redskins have solid numbers in the baseball program. Next year looks to be a rebuilding year. … 2025 record: 6-14 regular season.

Tioga Tigers: The Tigers lose just one senior starter in Cam Rought, and return a host of proven performers, led by junior Shea Bailey, in 2025.

Tioga scored 8.8 runs per game, and with five players who hit .346 returning, they should have no problem scoring runs in 2025.

The Tigers also return a solid foursome of pitchers in Bailey, freshman Jackson Bombard, junior Garrett Godfrey, and sophomore Logan Bellis, so they have depth on the mound.

Prediction: Tioga is poised to be a major player in Section IV, Class C in 2025. With nearly everyone back, and a couple of re-enforcements from the JV ranks, the Tigers should improve on 2024. … 2025 record: 16-4 regular season.

Waverly Wolverines: The Wolverines graduate five senior starters — six-year starters Jay Pipher and Joey Tomasso, Ethan Perry, and Jake VanHouten, and their top pitcher Sean Bubniak.

Freshman Matthias Welles (.320) is the only Wolverine returning who hit higher that .250, and sophomore Ronin Ault is the only pitcher returning who threw more than 11 innings.

Waverly has a handful of young players — sophomores Hogan Shaw, and Porter Daddona, freshmen Ben Shaw, and 8th-grader Jack Pipher — who saw considerable playing time, to go along with Welles and Ault to form a strong young core moving forward, but they will need many of their peers to step up in their first year in a varsity starting role, or their first year on varsity.

Prediction: Waverly’s program has been deep with talent in recent years, and next year longtime coach Kyle McDuffee and his coaching staff will need to dip into that talent pool to keep the Wolverines’ 21-year run of postseason appearances alive. … 2025 record: 10-10 regular season.

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