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When Williamstown High School baseball coach Buck Walter discusses this year's team, he casts an eye toward the pitcher's mound and smiles.
Williamstown brings back senior pitcher Michael Walter, who last year set the school record for strikeouts in a season and is also drawing attention from several colleges. In addition, the Demons will lean on the arm of sophomore Joel Price, who Walter says is "a crafty guy."
"We have enough kids that can throw, and I think we have nine kids that I am confident in their abilities. We are a stronger arm pitching staff from top to bottom this year," Walter said.
However, the Demons know they cannot depend solely on their pitching staff following last season's 14-17 record. Williamstown's season ended with an 8-6 loss to Walton-Verona in the 32nd District Tournament. The Demons' last victory in the tournament came in 1999 when they defeated Grant County 7-6.
Despite their results in the district tournament, Walter is looking forward to proving teams wrong, as Williamstown was picked 15th out of 16 teams in the 8th Region Coaches' Poll. The Demons open the regular season on March 24 at Walton-Verona. In addition to last year's loss in the district tournament, Williamstown lost twice to the Bearcats.
"We feel like we can be competitive this season. I like my chances, but the questions are how do we handle adversity and how will we respond in a close game," Walter said.
Walter said this year's team is "clearly better" than his first, which came in 2005. That season, Williamstown won nine games.
"We could have better team chemistry and more role players this season. We could conceivably have a little less power in our hitting, but we could have better pitching. We need to find a leadoff hitter. We have a great mix of kids," he said.