From the HCC sports desk:
BEL AIR, Md.—Sophomore Ron Trout (Stewartstown, Pa./Kennard-Dale) and freshmen Joe Harbach (Bel Air, Md./Abingdon, Md./Edgewood) and Jordan “Woody” Wlodarczyk (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) will lead the Harford baseball into the 2009 season this weekend as it hosts Sussex and Mercer County Community Colleges from New Jersey. Trout, Harbach and Wlodarczyk have been chosen to captain the 2009 Fighting Owl squad, head coach Tom Eller announced recently.
Trout returns for his second year with the Fighting Owls and was named an NJCAA Division II Northeast District Top Returning Player after batting .315 with one home run, 28 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 2008. Wlodarczyk, a three-year starter for C. Milton Wright helped the Mustangs to two state championship appearances and was named the 2008 Baltimore Sun Harford County Baseball Player of the Year, while Harbach joined Wlodarczyk on the Baltimore Sun All-Harford County First Team.
“The coaching staff decided to choose Ron Trout, Joe Harbach and Woody Wlodarczyk as our captains this year because of their natural leadership and ability to lead by example,” head coach Tom Eller said. “They have all been part of good programs in the past, whether at the high school or club level and know what hard work it takes to win.”
The Fighting Owls kick-off the season with a doubleheader against the Skylanders on Friday, Feb. 27 at 12:00 p.m. before facing the Vikings in a doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 12:00 p.m. and concluding the weekend with another doubleheader against the Skylanders on Sunday, March 1 at 12:00 p.m.
Harford will waste no time before jumping into the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference (MDJUCO) schedule, as it will travel to Hagerstown on Tuesday, March 3 for a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader against the Hawks, before embarking on a trip to Brunswick, S.C. the first weekend in March. There, the Owls will face Brunswick Community College in two doubleheaders on Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8.
“It will be a good experience for the team to take a long travel trip in the beginning of the season,” the coach said. “We’ll be able to see how we matchup against the perennially strong Region X teams and the trip will enable us to try some different things and get a feel for what works in our lineup and what doesn’t.”
Upon their return to Maryland, Harford will dive into the rest of its 55-game schedule as the Owls host NJCAA Division II preseason coaches poll No. 19 Lackawanna in a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday, March 10. The Fighting Owls will also host non-conference games against Corning (March 15), Quinsigamond (March 18), Finger Lakes (March 20), Montgomery (Pa.) (April 5), Salem (April 29) and Queensborough (May 1-2) in addition to Sussex (Feb. 27 and March 1) and Mercer (Feb. 28), while traveling to Delaware Tech-Georgetown (April 1), Montgomery (Pa.) (April 15) and Salem (May 6) as well as Brunswick (March 7-8).
“Our non-conference schedule will pit us against the top five teams in Region XIX with Lackawanna, Mercer, Salem, Delaware-Tech and Sussex,” Eller said. “It’s a demanding schedule, but should help to make us a better team and it will be an advantage if we end up facing any of the Region XIX teams that we play in the regular season in the Northeast District tournament.”
Harford’s 15-team, 30-game MDJUCO conference schedule will see the Owls host Cecil (March 12), Allegany (DH-March 14), CCBC-Catonsville (March 19), CCBC-Essex (March 26), College of Southern Maryland (DH-March 28), CCBC-Dundalk (April 1), Baltimore City (April 9), Anne Arundel (April 16), Montgomery College-Germantown (DH-April 19), Chesapeake (DH-April 25) and Prince George’s (April 28), while traveling to Hagerstown (DH-March 3), Baltimore City (March 17), Anne Arundel (March 24), Prince George’s (March 31), Montgomery College-Rockville (DH-April 4), Cecil (April 7), CCBC-Catonsville (April 14), Frederick (DH-April 18), CCBC-Essex (April 21), CCBC-Dundalk (April 23) and Garrett (DH-April 24).
“The MDJUCO conference schedule is always filled with good, competitive baseball,” Eller said. “From our rivalries with CCBC-Essex and Cecil to the level of baseball that we see from [NJCAA Division III Preseason No. 7 Montgomery College] Germantown, [NJCAA Division II Preseason No. 11] Frederick and [NJCAA Division II Preseason Honorable Mention] CCBC-Catonsville, our schedule is always highlighted by some great matchups.”
The Region XX Tournament will be held from May 8-10, with CCBC-Catonsville hosting the tournament. The tournament winner will advance to the Northeast District Championship versus the Region XIX tournament winner, to be played at the site of the Region XX winner from May 15-17. The winner of that matchup will advance to the NJCAA tournament from May 23-29 in Enid, Oklahoma.