New crop of players to lead CVCA baseball

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Royals

Over the course of the 2018 and 19 seasons, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy baseball built up a lot of momentum.

Along with winning the Principals' Athletic Conference title both years, the Royals also were pushing for district crowns.

CVCA coach Jason Herblet believed that 2020 could have been a banner year for the Royals.

"Last year's team we thought would a quality one," Herblet said. "One of our goals going into last year was win the league title and try to win the district title. This year will be a lot different."

COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season, causing seven CVCA seniors, six of who were starters, to lost their final year. Thanks to the cancellation, CVCA returns only one player with varsity experience.

"I think we're really young. This nice weather we've had has helped us get out play three scrimmages," Herblet said.  "It's allowed us to see some things. I've got one returning starter. I know in our conference, there are a lot of teams in the same boat as we are. I do think we're pretty talented."

Herblet said Northwest and Manchester could be the big squads in the PAC, though he thinks CVCA could develop into a contender.

CVCA's graduation losses hit them hardest on the mound, but the Royals have shown some ability with the bat.

"I'm hoping we can score some runs for our pitching," Herblet said. "These younger guys coming in are particularly good with the bat.

Herblet's staff remains mostly intact, with "my right-hand man" Ben Miller back as varsity assistant coach and CVCA graduate Kyle Silk as pitching coach. Ryan Starcher will be CVCA's head junior varsity coach, while Nick Manfred joins the Royals as a JV assistant.

Herblet notes his team will be led by junior pitcher/shortstop Andrew Hendricks, who has already committed to play baseball at Kent State.

"As he goes, we'll go," Herblet said. "Right now he's looking really good on the mound. He hit low 90s on the radar gun this winter. If he's on, he's going to be hard for other teams to hit."

Senior Alex Singh and sophomore Otto Rogers are competing for the other starting pitching spots. Singh has excellent velocity, while Rogers is prototypical "pitch to contact" pitcher.

Senior Sam Porter will serve as a relief pitcher, while freshmen Josh Stalnaker and Joey Lehner will also see time on the mound.

Herblet is very high on sophomore catcher Trevor Vojtkofsky, despite his inability to say his name properly.

"His defense is phenomenal and he has a pretty good stick," Herblet said.

Stalnaker and Logan Scranton will serve as backup catchers.

Senior first baseman Andrew Fridline is "Mr. Consistent" for the Royals at first base, while junior second baseman Tyler Wise will serve as lead-off hitter.

Joey Camera will play a backup at first base/designated hitter role.

Hendricks will start at shortstop when not on the mound. When he is, Lehner, who Herblet called CVCA's utility guy, will start.

Porter will start at third base for CVCA.

Rogers will get the start in center field, as Herblet notes he has a good bat and a ton of upside for the future.

Junior Ben Andexler looks to start in right field, while Lehner will start in left when not on the infield.

Senior Will Rybka will play in the outfield and serve as CVCA's pinch runner, while senior Blake Bolinski will provide outfield depth.

CVCA will open the season at the Louisville Constitution Town Early Bird Tournament Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The Royals open the tournament Monday at 2:30 p.m.

The home and league opener for CVCA will be April 1 vs. Fearless at 5 p.m.