Gardner-South Wilmington's baseball team will look a little different when the locals throw out the first pitch. Then again, most fans of the Panthers will easily recognize the bunch.
Todd Grieff takes over the helm of the Panthers, replacing Jon Posing after seven seasons, but the cupboard is anything but bare as opening game dawns.
"We have nine seniors and good team unity," Grieff said. "We also have four starting pitchers and aggressive hitters."
The four starting pitchers expected to toe the bump for the Panthers this year are Mike Goodwin, Cody Harvey, Chris Lardi and Kaidon Hibler.
"It has been so much fun adjusting each pitcher's mechanics and visually seeing improvements," Grieff said. "We also have developed several different pitches with each pitcher and talked game philosophy and the need for a stragetic plan each and every game."
Behind the pitchers will be a group of players on the infield who will have the flexibility and ability to play wherever is needed.
"We have a group of utility players where each kid can play multiple positions," Grieff said. "When you are small in numbers, it is a plus to be able to move people around."
Goodwin is listed as being able to play any infield position for the Panthers, as is Harvey. Hibler's other position is catcher and Lardi is a shortstop. Other listed infielders include Austin Wise, Jeremiah Medder, Mikal Kelly, Brendon Elens, Gavin Hawks and Scott Horrie. Hunter Eutsey is a corner infielder, as is Blake Marks. Horrie, Marks, Elens and Jeremy Kunz are also listed on the GSW roster as pitchers. Kyle Robinson is listed as a first baseman and catcher.
"Our infield will be different every game depending on the starting pitcher," Grieff said.
"Our outfield will remain fairly consistent."
Anthony Garrett, Dalton Wright and Kunz are expected to get the opening day starts, though Triston Noonon and Danny Houseman will also see time in the outfield.
Grieff says that his team is working hard on the "things that count the most" to this point. Things like "simple fundamentals", relief pitching and working counts.
"We want to respect the game of baseball and give 100 percent for every defensive or offensive play," he said. "The team goal is to focus on our conference and take a shot at coming out on top. I constantly harp on the importance of forgetting about the things we can't control and focus on the next move. My individual goal as a coach is to see each and every kid end the year a better player from when they started."
Since this is his initial foray as baseball coach, Grieff said that he is yet unfamiliar with the River Valley Conference but that it doesn't really matter that much.
"It's actually quite simple — we will play hard, not take any team lightly, and play this season one game at a time," he said.
He's also interested in watching the sum of the parts make up the whole of the team.
"Regardless if we win or lose, as a team we will be respected as to how we play the game," Grieff concluded. "This team compliments each other very well and does not have one individualist. As a new coach, I have to jump in and do my best to build success, but understand that failure and mistakes are just part of the game. I will do everything I can do to build a winning program and I will put in the extra time that allows the best chance of success."