It seems as though Ridley’s roster came down to groups this year. Unfortunately for the Green Raiders, the majority of those are leaving.
Returning for Ridley next season are the top-of-the-order guys, the table-setters mainly. Gone, though, are their big bats in the middle of the lineup … and the entire pitching staff.
The latter commodity is no doubt the biggest concern for Dan Najmola and company. It’s no hyperbole to say that the Green Raiders (10-9, 8-8 Central) require a complete rotation rethink. Four pitchers – Andrew Karahalis, Greg Mount, Adam Wheatley and Ed Hild – combined to record every one of the 19 decisions for Ridley this year. They’re all seniors.
Then there’s the power outage. Catcher Eric Bergman, first baseman Tyler Shiber and centerfielder John Gorgone, guys regularly occupying the 3-4-5 positions in the order, are all gone. There are candidates to replace them, but the absence of those three big mashers in the middle of the order may mean that the Green Raiders’ offense takes on a very different look next year.
There’s reason to hope, though, the that returning core can learn from the late-season swoon that saw the Green Raiders lose their last three, including two league contests, to miss out on playoff baseball.
Gorgone’s center field role should be occupied by either Tim Hopper or Jim Pisani, who played the corner outfield spots well this season and should garner more prominent roles in the lineup next season. The middle infield duo of shortstop Jake Hoffman and second baseman Justin Goerlach will also be back. Goerlach, who led the team with four doubles and often occupied the three-spot in the order, could be the most natural replacement for the blend of speed and power brought by Gorgone. Shawn Hackett, used mostly off the bench, will be in line for a more regular role.
A giant question mark remains over the mound, and next year’s Green Raiders will have to grow in a hurry in that department.