Preseason practices for the Redbank Valley and Union spring sports teams began last Monday. Here’s a quick look at each of the teams:
Craig Hibell enters his sixth season with the Bulldogs, who were 10-8 after losing their playoff opener to eventual D9 Class 2A champion Johnsonburg.
Hibell has 17 players on his roster, including sophomore Kobe Bonanno (.403), last year’s D9Sports.Com Rookie of the Year. Seniors Blaney Brooks (.323) and Nick Smith (.240) are other key players back.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to scrimmage at Rocky Grove and Homer Center next Monday and Wednesday. Their opener is scheduled for April 1 at home against Karns City at Clarion County Park.
John Sayers enters his 15th season with the Lady Bulldogs, who were 11-5 last year after a loss to Johnsonburg in the D9 Class 2A playoffs. Only three players were lost to graduation.
He has 18 players on the roster, among the key players including sophomore Brooke Holben (.525), and seniors Shylie Shreckengost (.500) and Kristen Shaffer (.368).
The Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season at home on April 1 against Karns City.
Track and Field
Both Redbank Valley squads combine to total about 100 athletes in all for boys’ head coach Andy Rex and girls’ head coach Mike Fricko.
For the Bulldogs, junior Sam Hetrick leads the way. He’s a returning state medalist in the high jump, finishing in a tie for seventh place after winning the D9 title the weekend before.
While Hetrick scored the team’s lone points at districts last year, senior sprinter Keaton Kahle was a state qualifier in the 100-meter dash as a sophomore.
For the Lady Bulldogs, seniors Paiton Rizzo and Elisabeth Hook, and junior Taylor King are back from the D9 fourth-place 4x100 relay. Junior Carley Shick was fifth in the 400 dash and was part of the sixth-place 4x800 relay with fellow returners in sophomores Emma Huffman and Rhiannon Laughlin.
Both teams are scheduled to open the season March 25 at Armstrong and then are home March 27 against Keystone.
It’s Ange Salvo’s fourth year for the Knights, who are coming off a 4-9 season.
Among the key players back for the Knights are senior Luke Salvo (.371, 19 RBIs) and senior Reice Saylor (.257; 3-4, 4.88 ERA).
The Knights are scheduled to open the season March 27 at Clarion-Limestone.
A new coach takes over for the Damsels in their second season of existence as Nicole Salvo takes over a team that had a small preseason roster of 10 girls at last glance.
That could put the season doubt, but the Damsels, who were 0-12 in their first season last year.
The schedule has the Damsels opening March 27 at Clarion-Limestone.
Track and Field
Second-year head coach Fred Weaver has a 35-athlete roster — 12 boys and 23 girls — working out in the preseason so far.
The Knights return three district qualifiers in seniors Tye Sapien in the 400 dash, Quintin Weaver in the 800 and 1,600 runs, and Nolan Cumberland in the pole vault.
Both teams open the schedule April 3 at Moniteau.