Baseball: Postseason wrap-up: Garnet Valley

The challenge for Garnet Valley on the back of its Central League co-championship season in 2012 was to replace a slew of outgoing players. Gone were a pair of All-Delcos, including MLB draft pick Joe DiCarlo, and a slew of other contributors.

Garnet Valley's Brad Gifford may be running from the Jags as part of a small senior class, but the future remains bright. (Times Staff / ROBERT J. GURECKI)

Garnet Valley’s Brad Gifford may be running from the Jags as part of a small senior class, but the future remains bright. (Times Staff / ROBERT J. GURECKI)

How that production would be replaced in 2013 would define the Jaguars season. The fact that the regime change led to the playoff win that evaded them a season prior and brought them within three outs of a District One Class AAAA quarterfinal shows how effective that process was. Add in the fact that the bulk of the players who rose to the occasion comprised a potential-laden junior class, and the future remains bright for Garnet Valley (12-8, 10-6 Central League).

The prime suspect in this year’s restocking – you can’t fairly call it “rebuilding” – has been Dalton Mayberry. A key contributor since he was a sophomore, the year he garnered his first All-Delco nod, Mayberry was the star again this season. He went 6-2 on the mound, no decision more important than the masterful three-hit shutout he twirled to down Council Rock South in the first round of districts.

Shockingly, though, Mayberry is in the minority when it comes to the class breakdown for the Jags. He’ll depart along with first baseman Brian Gross and infielder Brad Gifford, but the rest of the key pieces in the puzzle remain for Garnet Valley.

Few players took as great strides as Garnet Valley shortstop Andrew Bechtold. The junior had a tremendous season, highlighted by his lead-off home run for the only run in the CR South win, coupled with a tremendous defensive performance that game. He also dabbled on the mound, a role he’ll likely need to expand in his senior campaign.

He’ll be one of the leaders next season in an era that can best be classified as “post-Mayberry.” Sean Sarbaugh and Nick Bulisky each proved their worth on the mound and the batter’s box. Steve Palis produced offensively, mostly as a DH, and Chance Malek proved adept replacing Justin Pyle in center field. And behind the plate, Jeff Shanfeldt continued his trajectory of improvement from a freshman season in which he saw significant time.

The assembled nucleus makes the proposition for next season a little easier than the one entering 2013. It also places Garnet Valley as an early and very serious title contender.

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