FLORENCE, Wis. - Dave LaPoint, entering his 40th season as Florence's head varsity baseball coach, returns eight letter winners and four starters from last year's 12-4 squad which finished second in the Northern Lakes Conference at 11-3.
Despite the high number of returning players, Florence is young on the mound.
"The success of our season will depend on the development of our inexperienced pitching staff," LaPoint said.
Pitching candidates for the Bobcats include senior Louie Garcia (who collected two wins last season), junior Tyler Valine and junior Marshall Kelley.
Florence's losses from graduation included 80 percent of its pitching and three all-conference performers with the departures of Jackson Baumgart, Eric Huotari, Bryce Kerscher, Dusty Neuens and Jeremy Streu.
Returners to the team include Kyle Abbas, Garcia, Jeremy Schalow, Austin Trudell, Kelley, Valine, Tyler Beck and Spencer Davis. Abbas was also an all-conference pick last spring, batting .532.
In the field, the Bobcats will have new names at six positions.
"We will need time to develop our new players at their respective positions," LaPoint noted.
LaPoint points to defending league champion Crandon as a preseason favorite in the Northern Lakes Conference.
"They return an experienced club with veteran depth at every position, including last year's player of the Year in pitcher Hayden Krueger," LaPoint said. "Goodman-Pembine and Three Lakes should challenge for second place with experienced starting lineups.
"Overall, our goal is to be competitive every game."
Mike "Irish Mickey" Doyle returns to assist LaPoint this spring.
SENIOR - Kyle Abbas, Morgan Counter, Louie Garcia, Jeremy Schalow, Austin Trudell, Mason Vandenberg.
JUNIOR - Marshall Kelley, Thomis Mannebach, Tyler Valine.
SOPHOMORE - Tyler Beck, Spencer Davis.
FRESHMEN - Bradley Erickson, Kevin Young.