GLEN DALE-Despite the graduation of seven lettermen from a 16-8 team, John Marshall, as usual, is expected to be among the contenders for the OVAC and Region One baseball championships in 2012.
Returning to the roster are a pair of two-year lettermen in seniors Jake Lucas and Josh McKown, along with Todd Schmidt, another senior coming off an excellent season in which he earned All-Valley first team and special honorable mention on the West Virginia Class AAA all-state squad.
Aaron Fonner, who batted .378 with four home runs and 18 RBI as a sophomore before sitting out last season because of a torn ACL injury he sustained in football, is also back for his final season.
Other seniors on the roster are catcher Jimmy Jackson, outfielder Ryan Gellnar and first baseman Tyler West.
Juniors with the varsity are Johnny Cochran, Shane Wellman, Zach Winland, Jeremy Betras, Chris Minder, Jeremiah Fromhart, Evan Magers, Mitch Whorton and Daniel Barker.
''On paper, we look pretty good," veteran coach Bob Montgomery said during preparations for his 38th season at the helm of the Monarchs. ''But games aren't won on paper. You win by playing smart baseball and executing on the field.''
John Marshall's execution has been pretty solid during the Montgomery years. His first 37 seasons resulted in 777 victories, an incredible average of 21 per season. Add in 26 West Virginia Class AAA sectional championships plus a state title in 1985 and you get the idea that ''Monty's'' Monarchs have been more than just a little successful over the years.
''We have several experienced players back and the depth on our pitching staff is another strength,'' said Montgomery, noting that 12 of the 16 players on the varsity can pitch as well as play other positions.
Lucas, 2-1 last season with 26 strikeouts in 27 innings, McKown and Schmidt head up the pitching rotation. Fonner, 2-2 in 26 innings on the mound in 2010, is another potential starter. Others who could crack the rotation are Cochran, Wellman and Fromhart.
Depending on who is pitching, McKown and Schmidt will share the third base job and see starting duty in the outfield.
Both bring impressive hitting credentials to the everyday lineup. Schmidt was a difficult out for nearly every pitcher facing the Monarchs, batting .480 with 36 hits that included nine doubles, two triples and three home runs. While driving in 27 runs, Schmidt compiled an on base average of .530 and slugging percentage of .773.
McKown hit .414, slapping 10 doubles, driving in 22 runs and scoring 27 times. He was a second team All-Valley choice and honorable mention for all-state.
Lucas will be at short when not pitching. He knocked across 15 runs and batted .271 in 2011. Also looking for playing time at shortstop are Fromhart and Cochran.
Wellman takes over at second base, backed by Minder. Battling for the nod at first base are West and Whorton, while handling the catching duties will be Winland, Jackson and Barker.
Gellnar is listed as the left fielder with Schmidt and McKown also expected to get most of the calls in center field. Fonner is taking over the right field job with Betras and Magers the other outfielders.
The Monarchs graduated an impressive group of seniors, including Matt Carnahan, Logan Patrick, John Mirandy, Dakota Wellman, Jimmy Henderson, Jacob Berger, Alex Riley, Chris Riggs and Justin Goode.
Returning to the Monarchs' staff is long-time assistant coach Roger Simmons.
JOHN MARSHALL 2012 BASEBALL SCHEDULE
Mar. 19: Cameron 5 p.m.
Mar. 20: at Morgantown 5 p.m.
Mar. 21: at Wheeling Central 5 p.m.
Mar. 22: Magnolia 5 p.m.
Mar. 23: Linsly 5 p.m.
Mar. 26: Morgantown 5 p.m.
Mar. 27: Weirton Madonna 5 p.m.
Mar. 28: Cambridge 5 p.m.
Mar. 29: at Parkersburg South 5 p.m.
Mar. 31: Union Local (2) noon
Apr. 3: Wheeling Park 5 p.m.
Apr. 4: at East Liverpool 5 p.m.
Apr. 9: East Liverpool 5 p.m.
Apr. 10: Parkersburg South 5 p.m.
Apr. 11: Parkersburg 5 p.m.
Apr. 12: at University (2) 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 13: Brooke 5 p.m.
Apr. 14: at Linsly 1 p.m.
Apr. 16: Wheeling Central 5 p.m.
Apr. 17: at Cambridge 5 p.m.
Apr. 18: Steubenville 5 p.m.
Apr. 19: Bishop Donahue 4:30 p.m.
Apr. 20: at Brooke 6:30 p.m.
Apr. 23: at Wheeling Park 5:30 p.m.
Apr. 25: at Steubenville 5 p.m.
Apr. 26: Weir 5:30 p.m.
Apr. 27: at Oak Glen 5 p.m.
May 1: Oak Glen 5 p.m.
May 2: at Parkersburg 5 p.m.
May 4: at Magnolia 5 p.m.