NEW MANCHESTER - Coming off its first sectional championship in 18 years with 12 lettermen and seven seniors returning, there is plenty of optimism for Coach Lou Nagy and his Oak Glen baseball team heading into the 2012 campaign.
However, there are also a trio of four-year letter-winners that need to be replaced for last season's 8-15 squad.
A pair of honorable mention all-state players lead the way in seniors Jeff Hissam and Steve Barr. Hissam will once again play the outfield and pitch while Barr will be utilized wherever necessary as a utility player.
Senior Kole Koper returns behind the plate with junior Trey Smith in the outfield and classmate Tyler Steed at third base. Sophomore shortstop Bub Haddox rounds out the returning six.
Joining the starting lineup for this season will be senior first baseman Tanner Crago, senior second sacker Brandon Markham and junior outfield Matt McGlaughlin.
Along with Hissam, the pitching staff will include Steed, Haddox and Crago.
Gone from a season ago are Ryan Ford, Bryan Highfield and Martin Mazezka.
The Golden Bears will face a very formidable slate that includes the likes of big-school teams University, Brooke, East Liverpool, Wheeling Park and John Marshall.
''It was great to win the sectional for the first time in 18 years, but we lost three four-year lettermen from that team and we need to fill a few holes,'' Nagy said. ''We played real good baseball at times last year, but like everyone else our biggest foe was the weather.
''If you take out our four tournament games, we lost 13 games to rain overall.
''We have some good numbers, and an excellent feeder program, so our baseball program continues to grow. Now we are looking to take another step forward in 2012.''
OAK GLEN 2012 BASEBALL SCHEDULE
Mar. 15: University5 p.m.
Mar. 16: at Linsly5 p.m.
Mar. 19: Weir5 p.m.
Mar. 20: Linsly5 p.m.
Mar. 22: Brooke5 p.m.
Mar. 23: Magnolia5 p.m.
Mar. 24: at Buckeye Local11 a.m.
Mar. 27: Harrison Central5 p.m.
Mar. 28: Weirton Madonna5 p.m.
Mar. 30: at Weirton Madonna5 p.m.
Mar. 31: at Cameron (2)1 p.m.
Apr. 2: Clay-Battelle5 p.m.
Apr. 4: at Toronto5:30 p.m.
Apr. 7: Wellsville (2)Noon
Apr. 9: Steub, Central5 p.m.
Apr. 10: at Weir5 p.m.
Apr. 11: East Liverpool5 p.m.
Apr. 12: Wheeling Central5 p.m.
Apr. 16: at Steub. Central5:30 p.m.
Apr. 17: at University5 p.m.
Apr. 18: at East Liverpool5 p.m.
Apr. 20: at Clay-Battelle5 p.m.
Apr. 21: BurgettstownNoon
Apr. 23: Toronto5 p.m.
Apr. 24: Wheeling Park5 p.m.
Apr. 25: at Harrison Central5 p.m.
Apr. 27: John Marshall5 p.m.
Apr. 28: at Ritchie County1 p.m.
Apr. 30: at Magnolia5 p.m.
May 1: at John Marshall5 p.m.
May 2: at Wheeling Park5 p.m.
May 3: at Brooke5 p.m.