Several Oriskany baseball players are just getting over the buzz created by winning the school’s first state basketball championship.
Now they turn their attention to the diamond as the Redskins are primed for a run at winning their first state baseball title. Oriskany (21-3 in 2015) returns 10 players from last year’s squad that lost 3-0 to Westfield in the state semifinals. The Redskins, who made the state finals in 1993 and 2012, also lost in the semifinals in 2007.
Breaking down that door has been on the team’s mind since that loss to Westfield.
“I think it is a good thing,” said Oriskany head coach Tom Meiss, who is in his 11th season. “It is such a positive experience for high school athletes to experience (final four) weekend. It makes the returners hungry to try to match the success of the previous year.”
The Redskins will face tough competition in their division as New York Mills, Hamilton and West Canada Valley are among the squads equipped to challenge the Redskins. Oriskany is loaded with experience and despite having to make up for the loss of pitcher Nick Springer, who was an ace on the mound, the Redskins have few weaknesses. They also have great team speed, defensive versatility and good pitching depth to make up for the loss of Springer.
Kyle Liddy and Ethan Juarez are expected to be the top options on the mound. Liddy went 6-0 last season with an ERA of 2.72 and striking out 60. Juarez pitched just 21 innings, but struck out 37. He finished 3-1 and had a 0.67 ERA.
Juarez and Liddy are also two of the Redskins best hitters. Juarez hit .500 and Liddy batted .453 with 12 doubles, five triples, 40 runs scored and 26 RBIs. Catcher and shortstop, Ryan Enos, could be Oriskany’s best all-around player. Enos, who is a slick fielder, hit .488 with 11 doubles, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Enos, Juarez and Liddy joined Springer as first-team all-conference players.
Tyler Murfit (.404 average) is another top hitter for the Redskins, who also return key contributors Shawn Cassevah, Dean Mealey, Shamis Lasher, John Lacy, Ricky Phelps and Austin Knowles.
Meiss likes the mix of talent he has at his disposal and the chemistry of the team is also a strength.
“It is a very competitive group of guys and they trust in themselves and their teammates,” Meiss said. “So even when we are down or struggling we believe we can come back and right the situation. (We need) to compete and get better at some facet of the game on a daily basis. If we do this, I believe success will follow.”
The only challenge Oriskany faced during its run to the Section III Class D title came in a 2-1 victory over rival New York Mills in the semifinals.
The Marauders (13-7) return first-team all-conference performers in Griffin Baur and Terry Nichols. Both Baur and Nichols are top pitchers and in a one-game scenario can beat anyone.
West Canada Valley and Hamilton are two other top teams in Center State Conference Division III.
Hamilton lost to Oriskany in the quarterfinals and finished with a 11-9 mark last season. The Emerald Knights return Colin McGaugh, a senior who made first-team all-conference last season.
West Canada moves down from Class C and returns a nice corps from a team that lost 6-5 in the Class C quarterfinals to second-seeded Dolgeville. Seniors Josh Chapin, Jake Gorinshek and Mike Zaino join sophomore Matt Tobin as top returners who were all-conference all-stars last season.