Improved pitching should make Hawks contenders again


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photo by Carl Kotala

The Viera High baseball team had its best season ever at the plate last season.

This year won’t be too shabby, either.

But the thing to get excited about for the Hawks this season should be the improvement on the mound.

“I think this year, we’re going to have a better pitching staff,” Viera coach Bob Doty said.

Viera graduated 10 players from last year’s 23-win team that had a batting average of .361, averaged 8.5 runs a game, but had to deal with a number of injuries to its pitching staff.

A big reason for this year’s optimism is the addition of junior transfers Thomas Reed and Jordan Kaplan, who will add to a staff that already includes seniors Connor Scheer, Mike Rusnak, Christian Robinson and Tyler Sexton among others. 

“We lost a lot of seniors who pitched last year, but a lot of the young kids coming up are pretty good,” Rusnak said.

In the field, the Hawks return five starters with Robinson in center field, Scheer in right, Andrew Brait at shortstop and Connor Leary at second base. Kyle Dentmon, who played third base last season, will shift to catcher.

The team should also get a boost from transfer Alejandro Cortina, a first baseman/pitcher.

That experience should give Viera steady production both at the plate and in the field.

“We’re not going to hit for as much power, but we’ll still hit for average,” Robinson said. “We should be able to score runs. I think the pitching and the defense are going to be the big things this year.”

Robinson, a Stanford University commit, was ranked the 48th ranked high school player in the country by Baseball America prior to the season and should have his name called during the Major League Baseball Draft in June.

While that could lead to a big decision — go to college or go pro — the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Robinson made it clear that’s not on his mind right now.

“I try not to think about it,” he said. “I’m trying to focus on the high school season. Once the season ends, I’ll start thinking about that stuff.”

And from what Doty can see, Robinson is ready to have a very big year.

“He’s probably the best high school player I’ve ever been around in my years of coaching,” Doty said. “He’s a special talent. He runs, he throws, he hits, he hits for power and he fields. We’re looking to him for leadership this year.”

Despite a tough district and a loaded non-conference schedule, the Hawks are thinking big once again.

“If we (reach) full potential, I think we can make it to states,” Rusnak said. “That’s the goal. Hopefully, it works out.”