Frontier plays host to Trail in sectional semi Saturday

NEW MATAMORAS – While Frontier High owns two Pioneer Valley Conference wins on the baseball diamond against Buckeye Trail this spring, it’s not taking the visiting Warriors from Lore City lightly in Saturday’s 1 p.m. D4 sectional opener.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times,” said first-year Cougars baseball skipper Kurt Satterfield. “Buckeye Trail’s only won a few games this season, but they’re a better team than that.”

Buckeye Trail currently has a 5-15 record on the season.

Frontier, 9-9 overall and 4-4 in the PVC, defeated the Mike Neuhart-coached Warriors, 7-6 and 6-4.

“Both games were close,” Satterfield said. “In the first game that we played them, they were up on us, 5-2. So, we had to come back and beat them. I think it’s going to be a good ballgame Saturday.”

Thing is, forget the regular season. Every team is 0-0, now – and it’s either win and advance or wait until next spring.

“We’re the seventh seed out of 13 teams in the bracket,” Satterfield said.

“That’s pretty good for us. Last year, the Cougars only won three games. So, we’re pretty happy where we are, now.

“We’re thinking that Frontier’s never hosted a sectional tournament baseball game before. And, we’re pretty excited about hosting a tournament game for the first time.”

Satterfield said that he’s expecting Buckeye Trail, which is ninth-seeded in the tournament, to start Zach Grafton on the hill.

“He’s pitched every inning against us so far this season,” the FHS coach continued.

“He’s a right-hander, and his coach (Neuhart) tells me he’s just a freshman. He throws a fastball, curveball and even a slider.”

If Zach Grafton doesn’t throw then Jesse Lashley or T.J. Grafton could get the nod.

Frontier is expected to counter with either sophomore Brent West or sophomore Aaron Ott on the mound. This spring, West has posted four wins, while Ott has two.

In 40.1 innings of work, West has struck out 30 batters.

“I’m thinking that it’s going to be Brent (Saturday), and Aaron will play first,” Satterfield said.

Defensively, going around the horn, Wyatt Smitley will handle the catching duties. The junior backstop was hitting .500 with nine doubles and a team-high 28 runs-batted-in as of Wednesday of this week.

Either Ott or West will be at first, while sophomore Ryan Lamp will be at second base. At the hot corner, look for sophomore Dalton Webber, who has driven in nine runs this spring.

Zach Cunningham will be at shortstop. As of Wednesday, the junior standout, who was out with a knee injury last season, was hitting .461 with two home runs, six doubles, and 16 RBIs.

Cunningham can also pitch and has two wins, one save, and 25 strikeouts on the season.

First-year player and senior leadoff batter Nick Camino will be in left field. He leads the team in stolen bases with nine, and according to Satterfield, he has an excellent on-base percentage.

“Nick’s done a great job for us,” Satterfield said.

Sophomore Toby Minder will be in center field. He leads the team in triples with two.

“Offensively and defensively this season, Toby’s been one of our more consistent players,” Satterfield said.

In right field will be senior Damon Metheney, a solid defensive player. Metheney will probably be hit for in the batting order by junior DH Heath Foutty.

“We’ve got a pretty young team that has gotten so much better this season,” Cunningham said. “I think we’ve got a bright future.

“Our main goal is just to win.”