BREWER — The Brewer baseball team has been a model of consistency in recent years.
The Witches have advanced to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game in four of the last seven seasons, including last spring when coach Dana Corey’s club upset previously undefeated Bangor in the semifinals before dropping a 10-3 decision to eventual state champion Oxford Hills of South Paris in the regional final.
Brewer was hit by significant graduation losses last June, particularly in third baseman Eric White, one of the state’s Mr. Baseball finalists who now is playing at the University of Maine, and pitching ace Pat McEwen, now at Husson University.
And as the Witches continue indoor workouts in advance of the 2011 campaign, the transition is evident.
“We’re going to be veteran in some spots, but we’re going to be very, very young in others,” said Corey, who guided Brewer to a 14-5 record last spring. It was his first season as the program’s head coach after serving as a longtime assistant at his alma mater. “In fact, I have a lot of sophomores, which has made it very difficult in deciding who’s going where right now, because one thing I’ve found out is things can change very quickly. We can have someone working out with the JVs, and then we realize we need them working out up here.
“If somebody’s not doing the job, then we have to bring someone else up. The big thing for all the younger kids is they have to focus and maintain their work ethic. If they can go down there and do that, that shows the coaches something.”
Brewer will be led by an experienced nucleus that includes Kyle McLain, Yuhi Sasaki, Brandon Gendreau, Nick Moore and Joey Bartol.
McLain, a senior righthander, is expected to spearhead the pitching staff after compiling a 7-1 record for the Witches last spring, losing only in the Eastern Maine final.
“Leadership is going to find its way to us somehow,” said Corey. “Everybody has a personality and those personalities are not going to change, but working more with these kids will help them find out what their strengths are as far as being leaders. Some may be leaders by what they do on the field, others may be leaders because they have the vocal aspect, and some may be able to call out their own teammates, but if they do that they’ve got to have the stuff to back it up.
“With the younger kids it’s the same thing. They’ve got to start learning to be leaders, too.”
The team’s blend of experience and youth places a greater sense of importance on the preseason for production reasons as well, Corey said.
“We have some players who maybe will have to switch positions, and we’ve got a couple who have played a number of different positions and it would be good to get them down to one or two slots,” he said. “The other thing is to look at our pitching staff and see where they are as positional players, who we’re going to use as closers or starters and what we want to do with them positionally in the field when they’re not pitching.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for all of these kids, though, and the big thing is we want to play the way we’ve always played and that’s fundamental baseball.”