Trojans' coaching staff will be busy filling voids during offseason
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on May 22, 2013 1:47 PM
Jermaine Berry sat in the home dugout at Scarborough Field on Saturday night, his glory gold uniform caked in dirt, stunned by the reality that Mount Olive's season and his collegiate career had suddenly come to an end.
A pair of losses marred by the Trojans' uncharacteristically cold bats on day three of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional had left them out of the World Series for the second straight season.
Despite scoring 467 runs this season prior to the regional, the Trojans (48-8 overall) never appeared to regain their timing last weekend. They struck out just 18 times in 128 at-bats during their four games, but failed to execute in key situations.
Mount Olive had played just once in 21 days prior to the regional and head coach Carl Lancaster thought it showed in a 9-3 win over Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) during opening-day of the tournament.
"I thought our timing was off quite a bit," Lancaster said. "The timing was off and I thought we gave some at-bats away."
Berry and nine fellow seniors played their final game in a Trojans' uniform. Lancaster and his coaching staff are saddled with the task of replacing Berry at third base along with Conference Carolinas player-of-the-year Mike Mercurio, Daniel Oliver, Geno Escalante and outfielders Matt Petrone and Bryan Dunlavey.
The six seniors combined for 388 of Mount Olive's 615 hits this season.
Two-time Conference Carolinas pitcher-of-the-year Matt Dillon, who went a combined 20-3 during the past two seasons, graduates. So do Talton Cherry and Matt Hinkle.
Mount Olive returns plenty of talent next season and the expectations surrounding the program should be high as always. Right fielder Bradon Reitano, who batted .361, will be back along with starting second baseman Zak Orrison.
Left-handed pitcher Alex Regan returns after leading the Trojans with a 14-1 record and 1.81 earned run average (ERA). Derek Justice and Chris Orphanos should provide depth to the rotation that Lancaster had reservations about late in the season.
Getting quality arms and finding hitters to fill large voids are the staff's offseason priorities.
"We've got a lot to do to piece together another defense and offense," Lancaster said. "It isn't like the cupboard's completely bare, but the middle-of-the-order bats are being cleaned out, that's for sure. We've got to pick up some better arms than what we had out of the bullpen and we'll worry about the offense later."
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