PHILIPPI- Even with the loss of a Class AA all-stater, Philip Barbour will enter the season with a strong core of returning players for first-year coach Jonathan Carpenter.
Carpenter replaces Stan Fitzwater as head coach this spring. He served as an assistant under Fitzwater and also played for him while he attended Philip Barbour.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity I have," Carpenter said. "Ever since I was a youngster, I've always loved baseball, and to be able to be the head coach at my alma-mater is a dream come true."
Carpenter also praised Fitzwater for his guidance in making his transition from assistant to head coach a smooth one.
"Stan has been a great mentor," Carpenter said. "He left the program in great shape and we still enjoy talking baseball.
"I'm sure I'll still pick his brain when I see him at school."
The Colts must replace Andy Green, who batted .409 last year and was a first-team all-state selection.
But this year's roster remains laden with senior experience.
"We definitely have the pieces in place to a have a good team this year," Carpenter said. "We have a strong core of players making up the middle infield positions, and a veteran catcher that's like a second coach on the field."
Seniors Chance Price, Quentin Mouser and Zac Howdershelt will fill the infield positions, depending on the pitching assignment for that game.
Tyler Schiefelbein also returns with experience at pitcher and as a utility player
Price and Tyler Schiefelbein both earned postseason honors in 2012.
Price was an honorable mention all-stater and Big 10 Conference second-team pick, while Schiefelbein was a Big 10 first-team selection after batting .368.
"Tyler is our top returning power hitter," Carpenter said. "And Chance had a very good year at the plate in regards to batting average last year."
Doug Smith, meanwhile, returns behind the plate after earning all-conference second-team honors last spring.
"We expect Doug to have a very good year at the plate this season," Carpenter said. "And defensively is always good to have a senior catcher making the calls."
The pitching staff will be anchored by Mouser and Price, along with junior Saige Cline, who has impressed Carpenter with his increase in strength.
Sophomore left-hander Tyler Baldwin also is expected to supply innings on the hill.
"Tyler has a good arm and throws strikes," Carpenter said.
Freshman John Curtis also figures to earn playing time somewhere in the field.
"I'm excited to get the season going," Carpenter said. "We have a senior-oriented team I think we have a chance to be pretty good."
Carpenter said his team will play a very competitive slate with the expansion of the Big 10 Conference.
"Our schedule will be a challenge," Carpenter said. "With the teams we have in the league, you have to be ready to play every day."
Philip Barbour is scheduled to open the season March 14 at Petersburg for a doubleheader. The Colts will open the home portion of their schedule March 21 against Grafton.