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Panthers must rebuild after winning OVC title

CHESAPEAKE — Last season was good, but that was last season.

The Chesapeake Panthers won the Ohio Valley Conference last season, but they lost five starters from that team who were vital cogs in its success.

“We’re definitely rebuilding. We’ll have a different lineup each game. We’ll be looking for someone to step up,” Panthers coach Joe Waugh said.

One key player back from last season is senior shortstop Kersten Harris who is the team’s leading hitter and will be the top pitcher.

Joining Harris on the revamped pitching staff will be Vernon Browning, Justin Geneseo, Jaran Bartoe and Travis Zimmerman.

“After Harris, we drop off. We don’t have much varsity experience. I hope we can get some innings out of Zimmerman, Geneseo, Browning and Bartoe,” said Waugh.

If the pitching comes through, Waugh thinks the offense will be strong enough to help produce some wins.

“We have some guys who can hit the ball and make some things happen. We’re hoping to develop some consistency up and down the lineup,” Waugh said. “As the season progresses we should improve, I just don’t know how much.”

Browning and Zimmerman will be at first base depending on who pitches.

The second base job goes to Matt Angle and Josh Blair. Angle

will go to shortstop when Harris pitches and Blair will fill in at third base when Bartoe is pitching.

Byron Huff is in his third season as the Panthers catcher. Nick Allen is the backup.

“Byron has shown some improvement,” Waugh said.

The outfield has a plethora of candidates but Michael Wright is expected to be in left field. Clinton Baise in center and Kyle Rase will play in right.

“Those three are the frontrunners, but we have some young kids who could get some playing time,” Waugh said.

In the OVC race, Waugh sees two teams above the rest of the league.

“I hope we can be competitive. I think South Point and Fairland will lead the pack,” Waugh said.