In his first year, Jeffrey Chazen led the baseball team to a respectable 12-11 mark in the 2010 season. If his pitchers step up, the 2011 season could mark another major step forward for the Longhorns.
Parkway West is 4-4 after its 6-0 loss to St. Charles last Saturday. The Longhorns will host Parkway South at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, and then play at Timberland at 4:15 Friday.
The Longhorns' 5-2 record in Suburban South Conference play last season left them in a three-way tie with Eureka and Parkway North for second place, behind league champion Summit (6-1).
“Our pitching needs to be more consistent, along with our defense. We really have emphasized the notion of consistent play all year. We want to steadily improve throughout the season,” Chazen said.
The Longhorns have the luxury of showcasing two college-bound pitchers, seniors Logan Hershenow and Carter Smith.
“They both have dedicated themselves to become better pitchers each year.Both have tremendous work ethic. They truly lead by example," said Chazen. “I am blessed to have both of them at the head of my rotation.”
Righthander Hershenow has signed his letter of intent to play next season for Jefferson College in Missouri. He is looking to improve on his 3-3 record from last season. In two games, Hershenow is 2-0 and has surrendered only one unearned run. One of those starts was a complete game.
Coach Chazen said, “Logan has developed into a quality power pitcher. He lives by establishing his fastball and works off of that pitch. He has developed quality second pitches as well.”
Hershenow’s power is complemented by lefthander Smith, who will play at the University of Tennessee-Martin after graduating from Parkway West. Smith was 4-3 with a 4.23 ERA last season.
“Carter’s specialty is his ability to work both sides of the plate with all types of pitches. He does a great job of keeping hitters off balance," says Chazen.
Smith has 10 strikeouts in seven innings this season, with two no-decisions.
As seasoned as the starting pitching is for Parkway West, the offense is equally untested. Its top six hitters graduated. That includes Conor Smith, who is now playing at Missouri State. Smith led the Longhorns last season in home runs (7) and RBI (24). The Longhorns’ top returning hitter is junior Jake Triulzi, who hit .421 last season with 16 RBI.
Sophomore outfielder JC Demuri is hitting .429 this season, with a team-best nine hits.
Given the inexperience on offense, Chazen says his team will have to rely on manufacturing runs, at least until the bats develop some power.
“So far we have been dedicated to playing more of a National League-approach. Over the course of the season, as our bats start to heat up, we may develop some power. But I like having a diverse approach."
Chazen knows that he will need to have a balanced team to contend in the Suburban South.
“When you play baseball in West County, you quickly learn that anyone can beat you on any day. We have had some great battles with Parkway North, Summit, Seckman, and Parkway Central over the years, and Kirkwood has always played us well. University City has also developed some nice talent recently.”
The Longhorns opened up this season with four games in Florida against teams from Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois. Parkway West went 3-1 in those games. However, MSHSAA rules only allow them to count two victories on their win total for the year.