By Bob Kopp
BDR Sports Correspondent
BELVIDERE – Challenges do not build character.
Challenges reveal character.
Bucs baseball 2016 will be challenging.
With the matriculation of first-team all-conference captains Tyler Lass to Northwestern and Ryan McKnight to Monmouth, both starring on the mound, at the plate, and wherever needed, Head Coach Andrew Walters has used the exhibition season to develop a rotation, batting order, and line-up featuring only two returning senior starters (Matt Kopp and Ryan Snyder) and three returning junior starters (Anthony Cottichio, Josh Kugler, and Austin Revolinski).
With Cottichio just returning to action and Kopp still on the mend and in a boot with a broken foot, Coach Walters and assistants Scott Hyser, Mitch Hilden, and Patrick McKnight know Bucs Baseball 2016 will challenge everyone’s character.
Here’s a look at the roster in the order of their uniform numbers:
Junior Jacob Rodriguez, #1, will see action on the mound and first base.
Junior Jaedon Mendoza, #2, will be in the outfield.
Senior Erik Moraza, #5, had several strong outings on the mound in 2015 and will be expected to lead the pitching staff.
Senior Kyle Kozlowski, #6, is a fixture at centerfield with a consistent and aggressive bat.
Senior Drake Dutz, #7, has nailed down the spot in right-field.
Senior Ryan Snyder, #8, is the second baseman and will move to shortstop when Revolinski is pitching.
Junior Josh Kugler, #10, is a steady left-fielder with a big stick that cannot be overpowered by any team’s ace.
Senior Matt Kopp, #11, was a defensive stalwart at third in 2015 and showed pop in his bat over the summer; but remains sidelined due to an injury and may not be ready until the second or third week of conference action.
Junior Kolton Morris, #13, will be Mr. Utility.
Junior Austin Revolinski, #14, is in the rotation and stationed at shortstop.
Junior Austin Brockmann, #16, is in the rotation and will play third and first.
Senior Troy Snyder, #18, will see action at third and has long ball potential at the plate.
Senior Andrew Wesley, #20, will be behind the plate with proven long ball ability.
Junior Nico Reza, #21, will see action behind the plate when Cottichio is on the mound or playing third.
Junior Anthony Cottichio, #24, the only player in his third year of varsity action, will have to be at his best behind the plate and in the batter’s box for the Bucs to threaten contention in the NIC-10.
The baby Bucs are led by JV Head Coach John Fish and Freshman Head Coach Dan Hartzell.
Fans are hoping Bucs Baseball 2016 mirrors Bucs Basketball 2015-2016. The hoopsters started slow and then raised the Regional Championship trophy.
With a solid coaching staff led by 5th year Head Coach Walters and players sharing genuine Buc pride and camaraderie, this team could surprise favorites like Boylan, Harlem, Hononegah, and North when the playoffs roll around in May.
Conference action begins when the Bucs host Hononegah on April 11 at 5 p.m.

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