CORNING - After graduating 11 seniors from a team that finished 12-4 while winning a Southern Tier Athletic Conference Championship and earning a berth in the sectional finals, Corning will rely on its youth along with a key senior to step up and fill the void.
“We’re pretty young this year, we only have five seniors in the program and one junior,” Hawks head coach Eric Kizis said. “We’re fielding a young team in age, but not young in their baseball experience. I think it’s a team you’ll see get better by the end of the season.”
Corning will be without two key components from the heart of its lineup, Trevor Henneman along with Kellan Beall. The duo accounted for 12 home runs and 60 RBIs for the Hawks last season.
“Everyone is going to have to step up to replace those two guys,” said Kizis. “I think these guys have it in them. They have a desire and a drive to be successful. We want to continue our trend of the past few years.”
The Hawks do return last season’s hero Adam Zingler, who propelled the Hawks to the sectional finals with a walk-off double against Ithaca and hit a blistering .500 with 26 RBIs.
“Adam does a little bit of everything for you,” said Kizis. “He’s a good leader, he’s a good kid, he plays hard. He’s the first one to practice and the last one to leave. There’s going to be a lot of weight on Adam’s shoulders this year, but he can handle that.”
The senior is upbeat about the youth in the program.
“I’m excited to see what we can do,” said Zingler. “I know we are a young team, but a couple of them have surprised us early on, so it will be fun and exciting.”
Most of the maturation process will have to come via pitching as the Hawks lost aces Alex Bardo, Beall and Steven Rossi.
“Pitching will be an area we have to continue to tweak and hope gets stronger,” said Eric Kizis.
The squad will rely on underclassmen Landen Burch, Aidan Chamberlain, Blake VanWoert and seniors Zingler and Tanner Kizis to log innings on the hill.
“We’re going to ask a lot of those young kids on the mound,” said Eric Kizis. “Aidan and Landen will be big in that respect.”
The underclassmen, which include seven ninth-and-10th graders, stepping up will be imperative to the Hawks season and a Hawks program that has been relatively successful in recent years.
“If the young guys don’t step up, we don’t have a successful season," Eric Kizis said. "We need our young guys. We’re expecting a lot and we need a lot from those kids. They’re not afraid, they’re up for a challenge and they’re ready.”
Corning will open its season April 3 in Hornell at 4:30 p.m. with the home opener slated for April 6 against McQuaid Jesuit at 1:30 p.m.