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Hall of Fame inductees

 

Thirteen years ago in 2001, history was made by the Norristown A’s when they won their 6th consecutive Perky League playoff championship.  The previous record of five in a row had been set back in 1977 through 1981 by the Collegeville Colonels.

In 2002, Norristown would add another playoff championship and increase their record to seven straight championships.  In 2003 their streak would end at the hands of Collegeville who rode the hot pitching of Jared Lenko. 

The Norristown dynasty represented by these players here tonight was built on the blue print of a core group of players who were not only excellent players, but good friends.  It may seem simple in its conception, but the bong of friendship is essential in keeping the core group together.  Players who are good friends will challenge each other to play harder without creating animosity and players who care about each other will strive to win for the team and not just for their individual glory.

It also helps if you can find excellent baseball players who can accept critisism and who play with maturity.  Players who take the game seriously and strive to be the best they can be.  Players who want to play as often as possible and who are willing to spend their summer holidays at baseball games whether at home in the league or away at tournaments.  Indeed, if there is a secret ingredient that those Norristown teams had, it was their willingness to travel and play in as many tournaments as possible.  To a man, all of tonight’s inductees agreed that it was the bonding at tournaments where their friendships and skills grew stronger and their trust in each other on the field was cemented.  To them the Memorial Day tournament in Harrisburg was like their Spring Training.  Go away for a weekend; play 6 or 7 games; get 20 –some at bats against good pitching and then come home to the Perky League in Mid-season form.  And it didn’t hurt if they won as many of those tournaments as well.  Which they did.

They traveled their baseball road together and they were rewarded by their achievements as a team.  Yet the individual achievements matter as well.  And while together what this group accomplished was great and what they accomplished individually was just as great.  And so here tonight to honor them as individuals and to be inspired by their contributions to each other.

The history of this dynasty unofficially begins with Dan Chieffalo.  Chief moved to Conshy from Scranton & went to the local post office and asked about the best baseball to play in the area.  Chief was directed to Dave Kurtz who brushed him off over the phone but then connected Chief with Vince Elsier and the honeymoon began in 1995.  Chief played one year for Elsier in Norristown before the fall dynasty came together one year later.

We continue tonight’s historical era in Perky League history alphabetically, but not just because Bob Altieri’s last name starts with an “A” and not just because his story is so integral to the success of that Norristown team.  But because he more than anyone represents the most important part of the blueprint of the A’s greatness- find excellent baseball players.  There are six men being inducted tonight.  One of these men is a pitcher of superior quality; another is a solid third baseman who also happens to be perhaps the greatest offensive weapon the league has even seen.  The other four are interchangable parts.  Really great interchangeable parts.  All of them could hit for average and power and expertly field a number of positions.  Starting catcher not here tonight?  Take your pick.  Each one of these four men spent time behind the plate catching some of the best pitchers in league history.  Need an extra arm when only 9 players roll up at game time?  Take your pick.  They all took the mound at some point in their careers and at least two of them were starting caliber pitchers and one of them was easily another team’s number one who was willing to start a game or close a game.  Friendship may have been what kept them together for 10 years, but talent was what made them win.  Excellent, versatile baseball players and tonight’s first inductee may be the most versatile of them all.  In fact during his Perky league career our first inductee played all nine positions.  And how well did he play them?  Good enough that over the course of his career he was selected a Perky League All-Star at six different positions.

Bob Altieri credits his father for teaching him the fundamentals of baseball and the right way to play the game.  He spent many a night in the back yard fielding and hitting with his father, but he is also quick to credit his coaches in Conshohocken Little league for their instruction of the game by teaching him how to play all the positions on the field. A standout pitcher and shortstop he made his presence felt in the Conshohocken Base Ruth and American Legion programs, hitting his way to notoriety and leading his teams into tournament play year after year.  In one American Legion game, he hit 3 triples.  At Plymouth Whitemarsh High, Bob garnered MVP honors in his junior year and in his senior year was chosen to play in the prestigious Carpenter Cup played at the old Veterans Stadium.  Moving onto Delaware Valley College, he was named Most Valuable Player of the baseball team in every one of his four years and selected as 1st team All-Conference in every season as well.  During his senior year at Delaware Valley College, he received the Ned A. Linta award for his contributions off the field to the athletic department where he ran intra-mural football and basketball programs.  Honing the organizational skills he knew he would need when coaching.  He became an assistant coach under the legendary Hank Demito at his alma mater Plymouth Whitemarsh High School helping to secure the State title in 1994.  He then became the assistant baseball coach at Delaware Valley College from 1995 to 1999 and then became the head coach in 2000 at the age of 32 where he remains today.

Recruited out of American Legion by Perky League Hall of fame manager Vince Elsier to play at Harleysville, Bob began his Perky League career in 1987.  Splitting time between the two leagues he appeared in 11 games as pitcher and shortstop with a batting average of .474

When the 1998 season rolled around Bob lobbied Vince to bring Frank Monestero on board.  As a pitcher, Bob had trouble getting frank out in legion and thought he would be a great addition.  And it was.  It led to a great infield combination, a life-long friendship and being God-parents to each other’s kids.  Together Bob and Frank would move to the Upper Merion franchise as Vince had departed to Norristown and Upper Merion was closer to Conshohocken where Bob was from and an easier commute for Frank who was now at West Chester University.  Frank got drafted in 1990 by the Indians and spent most of the season in Single A ball splitting time between the Gulf Coast league and Appalachian league.  In 1991 Frank was back with upper Merion which was the Indians loss and the Perky League’s gain as Frank batted .489 and won the league’s batting crown.  And who was runner up?  It was Bob who batted .474.  And in the push-me pull-you bond that would characterize their days later at Norristown, where Frank led the league in hits and doubles.  But the most important part of the story is that solidified the core of Upper Merion and in 1992 helped the Vikings get to the playoff finals where they were promptly swept away by some team from Collegeville.

In 1993, this duo moved to Lansdale at the request of Bob’s brother in law.  In 1993, Bob finished third in the batting race and again led the league in hits.  Frank finished 6th in batting and again led the league in stolen bases. In 1994, Bob became the manager of the Lansdale Tigers.  Bob’s brother Matt and several of his friends were on the Plymouth-Whitemarsh baseball team and they were a very talented bunch.  Talented enough that they won the State title.  Having been coached by Bob as a member of the state team a young Eric Fisher remembers it like this.  It wasn’t a question as to if and where we were going to play in the perky league- we were told.  Fish split time at Lansdale as he was still playing Legion ball at Whitemarsh where he had been pitcher of the year in 1993 and would be Offensive Player of the year in 1994.  But the young talent made an immediate impact as the Lansdale team went to the playoff semi-finals but lost to Nor-Gwyn.  In 1995, bob won the league batting title with a .477 average and led his team to the playoff finals only to be swept once again by Collegeville.  All Frank did in 1995 was win the league MVP award leading the league in hits, runs and stolen bases.  At the conclusion of the 1995 season Bob and Frank journeyed with the Norristown team to the York Colonial tournament and did what any good manager would do and look around and assessed his current team.  Lansdale had the runs to compete but they needed some more veteran pitching.  Playing with Norristown, he saw a team that had pitching but could use some young power at the plate.  And a proposition was made; discussed; accepted and the Norristown team was born.  As player manager of Norristown in 1996, Bob struggled a bit as he juggled playing with a managing amidst the great expectations of victory and his batting average dropped a hundred points.  And, while batting .382 ain’t too shabby, frank finished 3rd in the league batting race hitting .402.  But in the end it was all worth it as Norristown defeated Skippack for its first Championship in five year and his first championship in 10 years.

And it is at this point in 1996 that travelling to all those tournaments paid off in a big way.  As the Springsteen lyrics goes “When change was made up town; And the big man joined the band”.  A big man by the name of mark Brockell.  A legendary semi-pro player out of Elkton, Md.  All he had been dropping moon-shots against Norristown at a tournament in Harrisburg.  Unfortunately for him the field had no fence and Norristown had some speed in the outfield.  Fortunatley for Norristown they chatted him up and left their number.  And when Christmas rolled around they got a call.  And the big man joined the team, but only part time in 1997.  Bob and Frank did what they do and in 1997, Bob again finished runner-up in the league batting title and finished second in hits and first in doubles while Frank finished 3rd in runs scored.  Norristown finished the regular season first and swept their collective nemesis Collegeville in the playoff finals for their 2nd straight championship.

In 1998 Mark Brockell committed full time playing with Norristown.  It seemed to be a good fit all the way around.  And maybe something that had something to do with what Frank did the very first time he met Mark at a practice the season before.  Frank introduced himself; Said “I know what you are going through driving all the way up here from Delaware/Maryland border so take this key to my house.  Come on up whatever time you want.  We’ll get dinner together.  We’ll go to the games together.  And if nobody’s home just come on in and make yourself comfortable” Who does that?  Frank does.  But that gesture did make a very positive impression on his new teammate.

In 1998 two things happened for the Norristown A’s.  They acquired a left-handed pitcher by the name of Tom Christy and the Jenkintown team from the Pen-Del league decided they wanted to jump to the Perky League with their stated goal being to win the championship and knock off Norristown.  Suffice it to say, Norristown had something to prove.  Someone who did no was Tom Christy.

Tom Christy began his career with the North Wales Whalers in 1984.  He had been a four year starter at West Chester University.  He pitched a game against Jaime Moyer in American Legion and had won.  He had compiled a 13-2 record at North Penn High School while striking out a school record 136 batters.  And while a tryout with Pittsburgh didn’t pan out, he made a name for himself in the Perky league.  Twice he flirted with perfect games taking them into the 7th inning only to have them turn into 1 hitters.  In 1998 he had 16 strikeouts in one game leading his then head coach Perky League hall of famer George Hoffman to exclaim, “Why couldn’t he had gotten the other five?”  Also in 1998 he helped the Norristown team to win the Colonial York tournament and was named outstanding pitcher of the tournament.  In 1994, his 3 hit shutout and 12 strikeouts over Lansdale was followed by a one hitter and 15 strikeouts against Trooper.  In 1995 he was named Perky league pitcher of the year with a record of 8-1.  The only thing Tom Christy had to prove was whether he could be better on a team like Norristown.  Yes, his Nor-Gwyn team had miraculously won the playoff championship over Norristown in 1990, but even he had to admit that too often he was pitching to get four or five out an inning.  And so in 1998 he said yes to the idea perhaps he could still be even better, he then moved to Norristown.

And those years will go down in history as the framework of what is very likely the greatest dynasty the Perkiomen Valley Twilight league may see.

And no, please re-direct your attention to the infield where each of tonight’s inductees will receive his individual plaque etching them permanently into the Perkiomen Valley Twilight league history.

 

  

 

 

Bob Altieri

The personification of the Perky league

 

Played all nine positions during his perky league career and was selected as a league

All-Star at 6 different positions

 

Played a total of 22 seasons with five different teams:

Harleysville Hornets 1987-1989

Upper Merion Vikings 1990-1992

Lansdale Tigers 1993-1995

Norristown A’s 1996-2005 and 2007

Collegeville Black Sox 2012-2013

 

Player/Manager of Lansdale 1994-1995

Player/Manager of Norristown 1996

 

League batting champion in 1995 with a .529 average

2-time league MVP runner-Up: 1995 and 1997

3-time batting title runner up:

1991 with .474 average

1997 with .474 average

1998 with .449 average

 

Winner of 11 Perky League Playoff Championships

(including a league record 7 straight)

1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012

 

3-time Playoff championship runner up:

1992, 1995, and 2003

 

Winner of Harrisburg Memorial Day Tournament:

1997, 2000 and 2002

 

Winner of the Harrisburg Firecracker tournament:

1997, 1999, 2002 and 2004

 

Winner of York Colonial tournament:

1988, 1997 and 2002

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

 

 

 

Mark Brockell

A power hitting third baseman with strong defensive skills

He is remembered as one of the greatest players in league history

 

Played his entire 11 year career with the Norristown A’s from 1997-2007

 

The only player in league history to win five batting titles

Including 3 triple crown and 3 league MVP awards

 

League MVP and triple crown winner in 1998

With a .515 batting average, 11 HR’s and 41 RBI’s

 

League MVP and triple crown winner in 1999

 with a .610 batting average, 15 HR’s and 51 RBI’s

 

League MVP and triple crown winner in 2006

 with a .447 batting average, 4 HR’s and 35 RBI’s

 

League batting champion in 2002, 2005, 2006

 

Perennial Perky League All-Star

Player/Manager of the Norristown A’s in 2007

 

Winner of 9 Perky League Playoff Championships

(including a league record 7 straight)

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007

 

Playoff championship runner up:

2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Christy

One of the greatest pitchers in league history and

Remembered as the best left-handed pitcher of his era

 

Accumulated the most strikeouts in league history

 

Played a total of 20 seasons with three different teams

North Wales Whalers/Nor-Gwyn Packers 1984-85, 1988-1997

Norristown A’s 1998-2000

Souderton Warriors 2001-2004

Nor-Gwyn Packers 2005

 

In 1998 struck out 16 batter in a

7 inning game against Lansdale

 

Counting regular and post season games from 1998 into 2000,

Was undefeated over the span of 22 games

Including a perfect 8-0 season in both 1998 and 1999

 

Two-time pitcher of the year: 1995 and 1999

Pitcher of the year runner up: 1998

 

Perennial Perky League All-Star

 

Winner of 4 Perky League Playoff Championships

1990, 1998, 1999, 2000

 

Playoff championship runner up:

1994

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Fisher

An athletic shortstop with a cannon arm

Who could hit for power and average

And who was also and outstanding pitcher

 

Began his career out of high school in 1994

Played 2 seasons with the Lansdale Tigers

Before moving to Norristown A’s in 1996

 

Played a total of 15 seasons:

1994-1997; 2000-2008, 2010, 2012

 

In 2002 was runner up in the batting title with a .493 average

While leading the league with 13 doubles

 

Player/Manager of the Norristown A’s 2006-2007

 

Perennial Perky All-Star

 

Winner of 8 Perky League Playoff Championships

1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007

 

4-time Playoff championship runner up:

1995, 2003, 2010, 2012

 

3-time playoff MVP

2000, 2002, 2005

  

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Monastero

The heart of the greatest Norristown A’s dynasty

 

He is remembered as an explosive run producer

Who could win a game with his bat or his speed

And as a loyal and generous teammate

 

Played a total of 19 seasons with four different teams:

Harleysville Hornets 1988-1989

Upper Merion Vikings 1990-1992

Lansdale Tigers 1993-1995

Norristown A’s 1996-2006

 

League MVP in 1995 with a .494 average and also led the

League in hits (41), run (34) and stolen bases (18)

In 1999 was league MVP Runner up and

Second in batting title with .456 average

 

League batting champion in 1991 with a ..489

In 1996 was 3rd in batting with .402 average

In 2001 again led the league in hits with 43

In 2002 was 5th in batting with .446 average

In 2003 was 4th in batting with .488 average

In 2005 was 5th in batting with .400 average

 

Owner of the Norristown Diamonds 2012-present

 

Winner of 9 Perky League Playoff Championships

(including a league record 7 straight)

1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005

 

3-time Playoff championship runner up:

1992, 1995, and 2003

 

Winner of Harrisburg Memorial Day Tournament:

1997, 2000 and 2002

 

Winner of the Harrisburg Firecracker tournament:

1997, 1999, 2002 and 2004

 

Winner of York Colonial tournament:

1988, 1997 and 2002

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

 

 

 

 

Dan Chieffalo

Clutch in big games in many championships series

Who could hit for power

 

Played a total of 9 seasons with Norristown A’s:

1995-2006

 

League batting champion in 2000

 

Winner of 9 Perky League Playoff Championships

(including a league record 7 straight)

1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005

  

 

Inducted August 7, 2014

Storm Hornets will be a very tough opponent to derail in Perky playoffs

By MATT SPERLING
Special to The Times Herald

The hornet’s sting is painful to humans, but the toxicity varies by species. Some species deliver an ordinary insect sting, while others are among the most venomous insects in the world. Without immediate treatment, reactions can be fatal.

So just how deadly is the Storm Hornet species you ask?

The answer is simple – they are the deadliest predators of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

After dwelling in the cellar of the Perky League standings for what has seemed like an eternity, the once anemic offense of the Harleysville Storm Hornets finally found their sting during the 2009 season. Led by the James Quigley, Mike Villari and Tom Mahoney, the Hornets (the team has officially dropped the “Storm” from its moniker) offense has been potent en route to a 20-plus win season. And as for their pitching staff, well, they have been equally as venomous. Michael Caron has put together perhaps the most prolific season in Perky League history (7-0, 0.53 ERA) which was highlighted by an epic 11-inning, complete-game performance against Norristown. Following Caron in the rotation, things don’t get much better for opposing Perky League hitters as left-handers Brandon Bruno and Jeff Rugg have combined to win 10 games.

So, who out there in the Perky League is ready to extinguish the dream season of the Hornets? A few are laying in wait, so let’s break down the matchups…

Round 1:

Harleysville (1) Bye

Collegeville (2) Bye

Note: Like every other team in the Perky League, both Ambler and Plymouth qualified for the playoffs once their league registration check cleared. That said, and in protest of the current 8-team playoff system, Harleysville and Collegeville are being awarded first-round byes via 3-0 series sweeps in this preview.

Lansdale (3) vs. Trooper (6)

Despite winning 18 games, it was a bit of a down year for the Tigers. The loss of Andrew Miller and arm injuries within the starting rotation have left manager Christian Militello with holes to fill. Jason Ferrie has anchored the pitching staff quite admirably in his first season, but the Tigers offense will determine just how far the Tigers will go. Regaining his stroke from years past, speed-demon Jon McGlone sets the table for the powerful bats of Zach Hess and Phil Cavalcante.

Out in Trooper, it’s the same story, but a different year for the Trashmen. Joe Conaway, Greg Moyer and Victor Evangelist have some pop at the plate, but the absence of Zeb Engle has left the pitching cupboard bare.

Prediction: Lansdale wins series (3-0)

Norristown (4) vs. Nor Gwyn (5)

Talk about two teams going in different directions. The Norristown Agents boast MVPs of six of the prior seven seasons in Matt Altieri, Matt Sperling and Harry Ley, but have been inconsistent for most of the year. On the bright side however, the Agents have won 10 of their last 14 and enter the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league.

The Packers were blazing out of the gates early thanks to Matt Blazynski, but have lost five in a row (pending the result of their double-header against Plymouth). Despite a formidable starting staff in Mike Zwanch, Dan Mulholland and Joe Harris, they will need to be razor sharp to make up for a Packers offense which has been erratic for most of the year.

Prediction: Norristown wins series (3-1)

Round 2:

Harleysville (1) vs. Norristown (2)

Can the Hornets really carry their regular-season pitching performance into the playoffs? Or will a Norristown offense which has recently shown signs of life unleash fury upon them?

In the end, the Harleysville offense and running game will exploit the pitching of a Norristown team which lacks a true shutdown ace.

Prediction: Harleysville wins series (3-2)

Lansdale (2) vs. Collegeville (3)

Collegeville bolstered their roster in the off-season by adding two of the youngest, brightest stars of the Perky League in Zeb Engle and Andrew Miller. Engle leads an impressive staff which includes prophylactic-armed Derek Major, as well as two members of the no-hitter club (Adam Hartzell and Mike Cope). The catalyst of the offense is the aforementioned Miller, and Temple standout Lenny Del Grippo.

At series end, the left-handed wings of the Black Sox will keep McGlone and company off the basepaths en route to a series victory.

Prediction: Collegeville wins series (3-1)

Finals:

Harleysville (1) vs. Collegeville (3)

In what should be a tightly contested, well-played series, it will all come down to crunch-time execution. And who better to perform during crunch-time than the coolest cat of the Perky League? Amidst the dust and smoke, Freddy Faison will once again arise safely at home with the coveted Perky League chalice awaiting his arms.

Prediction: Collegeville wins series (3-1)

New kids on Perky block

By DENNIS C. WAY
Times Herald Staff

It began as a pipe dream, like, what if we hit the lottery? Or, wouldn’t it be cool if we built our own house?

Andrew Beshenich had a two-year fling playing pro baseball in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. But, when he refused back surgery at the age of 20, the former Norristown High star was released.

Not quite ready to hang up his spikes, Beshenich turned to the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

“I’d always been a fan of the league,” he said, “and I wanted to go to the Perky to keep playing ball. I figured all my friends and I could play together.”

But what Beshenich found out was that the league had been reduced to seven teams when financial considerations forced league champion Plymouth out of the league.

“With seven teams, I knew it was really going to be difficult to find a team to play for,” Beshenich said.

But fate intervened.

Working at the Plymouth Center, site of the former Plymouth Pirates ballpark, Beshenich began asking questions.

“My friend (and fellow Norristown grad) Chris Delaney and I were joking around, talking about how we should own our own team,” Beshenich said. “I asked some people where I work how much it would take to put a team in the Perky League, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

So Beshenich and Delaney took the plunge.

“The tough part was getting the money together,” Beshenich laughed.

But just like in the movies where the gang gets together to put on a show to pay Granny’s back taxes, the Norristown duo were suddenly owners.

And Plymouth is back in the league — as the Plymouth Angels. And just as he wanted to do, Beshenich is playing with all of his friends, who he recruited for the team.

“We have 18 guys, and they’re all fresh faces to the Perky League,” Beshenich said. “But they’re good ballplayers. Most of them are guys I played with or played against. And I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

“We’re definitely the youngest team in the league — I don’t think there’s a player over 24. And Chris and I have to be the youngest owners in the history of the league.”

Along with Beshinich and Delaney, former Norristown and University of the Sciences pitcher Phil Maher, former Methacton-now Messiah College hurler Eric Spring and Kennedy-Kenrick grad and current Widener pitcher Sal Spera are on the roster.

Joining them are infielder Charlie DiNolfi (Upper Merion/Del-Val) and Nick Ciccone (Kennedy-Kenrick), among others.

“I’m not expecting to win the league,” Beshenich said. “It’s going to be a grind this year. But we have enough pitching to keep us in games.”

As for the teams who figure to be in the hunt for the league title, a good place to start might be Collegeville, perennial contenders and champions just two seasons ago.

The Black Sox came up aces in the off-season, adding one of the league’s best all-around players in Andrew Miller and one of its best pitchers in southpaw Zeb Engle. Outfielders Mike Cope and Dan Overcash and Elizabethtown pitcher Adam Hartzell are among the other talented newcomers.

Add them to a nucleus that already includes reliables Ian Hauze, Derek Major, Scott Young, Stan Haraczka, Lenny DelGrippo and Brian Rorick, and the Sox are certain to be in the mix come playoff time.

Last season’s finalists Lansdale look to be in the championship hunt again, but not necessarily with the same cast that got them there a year ago.

With Miller and Cope elsewhere, staff ace Matt Kelly (8-1, 0.42 ERA) in the armed services and Michael Acosta back in Arizona, Tigers manager Christian Militello went out and got arms (Widener left-hander and Commonwealth Conference Rookie of the Year Jason Ferrie, DeSales’ Travis Hughes, Ursinus’ Rich Guthridge, former Phoenixville ace and Yankees farmhand Steve Shoemaker and former Orioles farmhand Jason Mills) and bats (former Perk Valley standout Rob Slauch, Kennedy-Kenrick/Widener infielder Dennis Morgan and a couple of old Perky hands, Matt Weygand and Jimmy Johns) to take their place.

The result is a team Militello likes.

“We might be better than last year,” the manager said. “Those were some big losses, but we feel we’ve replaced them.”

Speaking of replacements, Norristown was a team looking for depth a year ago. And lo and behold it found it, in the persons of a good chunk of the former A’s dynasty.

Latshaw-McCarthy regulars Matt Altieri (.459. the league’s leading hitter), Mark Roth, Sean Meister, Matt Sperling and Steve Develin will be joined at the old stomping grounds by former Plymouth MVP Harry Ley and holdovers like Tony DeLude and Matt Windt in search of another Norristown championship.

If the rumored departure of left-hander Jordan Nyce is true, the Agents will be missing a key arm.

Arms, however, will a-plenty at Harleysville, where an impressive staff gets a major upgrade with the presence of left-hander Brandon Bruno. The multi-Pitcher of the Year winner joins holdovers Jeff Rugg (2.46 ERA), Michael Caron (3-4, 2.61) and both Greg and Matt Powell.

James Quigley heads a solid offense which shouldn’t need to post a whole lot of crooked numbers to be effective.

“We feel if we score four or five runs a game, we’ll win,” said Storm Hornets skipper Bill McCann.

Still trying to crack the circuit’s upper echelon, Nor-Gwyn upgraded its offense with the addition of Ryan Griffin (.340) and its pitching staff with Ryan Ignas (4-1 in 20 appearances at Penn State).

And with the return of stalwarts Matt Blazynski, Brendan Fanslau, Darryl Clark, Alan Warner and Adam Soley, the Packers could be ready to take that next step.

“I couldn’t tell you whether we’re going to win 10 games or 20 games,” said Packers manager Tony (Pep) DiBricida. “We’re still young and unproven with a lot of work to do. But we’ll always be competitive.”

Trooper suffered more than a couple of key losses in the off-season, including returning league home run champ, Brian Hartsell, who will miss the year after undergoing surgery. But manager Sam Pier is confident that a nucleus that includes Greg Moyer (.438), Bill Warrender (.321) and Joe Miller (.429) and the addition of Lehigh catcher and Germantown Academy grad Joe Conaway will keep the Trashmen in the hunt.

“We had a lot of guys at or near the top of nearly every offensive category last year,” Pier said. “These guys can get it done.”

Each season, Ambler manager Bruce DeBernardis is uncertain of his roster until the very late stages of the preseason. This year is no exception.

But count on the Rebels to be young, enthusiastic and a lot better as the season goes on.