by: MATTHEW SHERMAN  Levi Rudolph is an important cog in Lakeridge’s talented pitching staff this year. The Pacers hope to be one of the top teams in the TRL this season.

With an experienced pitching staff and a solid defense, the Lakeridge baseball team looks to jump into the upper half of the Three Rivers League this year.

The Pacers have good numbers again this season and plenty of returning varsity players.

Now the team just needs the weather to subside.

"We're done with practice. We need to see where things are and I think the guys are anxious," coach Colin Griffin said.

Lakeridge should have a very strong rotation this year with senior Cam Wood returning after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury.

Levi Rudolph is also back after a strong sophomore season on the mound.

Hank Elliott, another junior, will also likely be the team's No. 3 starter while senior Tyler Smith will see plenty of innings in relief for the squad.

"We're not going to strike a lot of kids out but we have guys who know how to keep the ball down," Griffin said.

A number of players, including a few freshmen, are currently battling for a spot on the team's pitching staff as well.

Offensively, Lakeridge figures to be led by four-year starter and centerfielder Nick Sotta.

Griffin has plenty of options to round out his line-up and the team's versatility is one of its strengths this season.

Conor Griffin and Elliott will both play shortstop for the Pacers with the other filling it at either third base or second base.

Rob Shiffer and Rick Hiller will also see time in the middle of the infield.

"What's nice is that we have four or five guys who can play second, third or shortstop. I think it's just going to come down to who's a gamer," Griffin said.

Shiffer, Rudolph, Griffin and Elliott can all play third base as well while Brandon Crane will be the team's starting first baseman.

The Pacers feature two very strong catchers in senior Ansel Webster and junior Cooper Hummel.

"Both will see a lot of time. They're both good on offense and defense and could probably start for most other teams in our league," Griffin said.

Along with Sotta in the outfield, Smith will likely play left field while Rudolph, Todd King and Mike Spalding will likely rotate in right field to start the year.

The Pacers have plenty of athleticism and, heading into the season, don't appear to have many weaknesses.

"We can run a bit and the power's there. It's probably the most complete team I've had in my five years. Last year we played really good defense at times and we hit well at times. We just need to do both at the same time this season," Griffin said.

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