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Youthful Archers Have Much to Look Forward to in 2014

 Sophomore first baseman Mike Ehrhard was part of a formidable middle of the Archers' lineup in 2013.

Sophomore first baseman Mike Ehrhard was part of a formidable middle of the Archers’ lineup in 2013.

Despite entering this year with a beefed-up schedule, St. Louis Community College’s baseball team took a step forward this spring, posting a record of 30-25.

In addition to scheduling no games against junior varsity programs, Region XVI was significantly more competitive this season, both in the regular season and in the postseason tournament.

The Archers gained a penchant for playing well against top teams throughout the year, including one-run games against Crowder College, who spent much of this year as the top-ranked team in the nation.

“If you look at our performances against the top-tier teams, we took care of business when we had to, but dropped the ball elsewhere,” Archers head coach Tony Dattoli said. “I don’t think we necessarily played our best ball all season, but everyone was hot at the end, and five or six teams could have won that region.”

The regional tournament was highly competitive throughout, with the Archers’ season coming to a close with a 10-6 loss to Three Rivers Community College. The Archers reached day three of the tournament with a 12-2 win over Mineral Area College and a 5-4 loss to Crowder.

“I didn’t think (the region) was as lopsided as in seasons past,” Dattoli said. “Everyone got hot, and anyone could have made a run.”

The Archers benefited greatly from the infusion of sophomore third baseman Larry Schimsa (Pacific) in this year’s lineup. Schimsa batted .366 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI en route to being named to the all-region team. He teamed with fellow sophomores Mike Ehrhard (CBC) and Matt Weiss (Parkway South) to create a formidable middle of the order.

While the Archers will miss that lineup trio next year, the team will return a majority of its players next season. With a season of collegiate experience behind them, Dattoli looks forward to an expanded role and a step forward in the program’s success entering 2014.

Among this year’s young impact players were outfielder Austin Evans (Kearney), who led the team with 15 stolen bases, and Enrique Finol (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fla.), who ranked third on the team with 51 hits.

On the mound, freshmen accounted for 17 of the team’s 30 wins this season. The Archers graduate just three pitchers from this year’s team.

“The experience they were going to return with is really going to help,” Dattoli said. “We had guys who had a big part of our success as freshmen. The nice thing is, we also redshirted four guys who were there all the time, and although their year is going to say ‘freshman,’ we’re hoping they come in and perform like sophomores.”