In addition to Carleton, senior righthander Greg Peck has been sidelined with an injury to his right elbow. Peck has yet to practice. He was 5-1 with a 3.10 ERA last year.
West's ace is Pete Wostnizer, a 6-foot-3 senior, who was also 5-1 last year.
The Lions will be tested early. They are scheduled to open April 2 at home against Highland. The Lions will then compete in the Grand Slam Invitational in Arizona, beginning April 5.
The tournament is made up mainly of teams from Arizona and California, where the climate is more conducive to playing baseball. Two years ago, West gained national acclaim by winning the Upper Deck Tournament in California. It would be difficult to duplicate that feat this season.
"That team two years ago was a special group," Trotman said. "We are far
from that this year."
That West team in 1992 included Bo Gray, who was drafted by the Phillies and attended Temple before leaving school in December. It also included three players currently on Temple's team, catcher Dan Farling and outfielders Tom Bianco and Walt Clymer. That year the Lions won a fourth straight state title.
WHO'S NO. 1? Washington Township ended last season as The Inquirer's No. 1 team and should be excellent again this year.
Washington Township has South Jersey's premier returning player, Mike Koerner, a senior outfielder. Koerner was The Inquirer's South Jersey player of the year in 1993, hitting .500 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs.
Koerner made a baseball recruiting visit to the University of Tennessee in the fall. He will visit defending NCAA champion LSU this weekend and will visit Georgia Tech on April 1, according to Washington Township coach John Bush. Koerner is also considering Arizona State and Stanford, according to Bush.
Township must replace Kris Gervasi, who was 8-0 last season before graduating. But led by junior righthander Jim Malko, the Minutemen should develop the pitching staff to again be a South Jersey power.
Cherry Hill West, despite its current injury problems, is a potential No. 1 team. Here are some of the other contenders, in alphabetical order:
Audubon: The Green Wave welcome back seven starters from a 22-7 team that won the South Jersey Group 1 title. Vaughn Schill, who pitches and plays first base and the outfield, and Dan Severino, an outfielder and pitcher, are two of South Jersey's top sophomores.
Edgewood: The Eagles return one of South Jersey's top pitching tandems from an 8-10 team. Lefty Hal Mitchel and hard-throwing righthander Roark Birsner will keep the Eagles in a lot of games. Birsner enjoyed an excellent summer pitching for Atco's American Legion team.
Florence: The Flashes return eight starters from a 20-8 team that was ranked No. 14 in the final Top 15. Aaron Dengler should be one of the best outfielders in South Jersey after hitting .394 and playing well in the Carpenter Cup tourney last season.
Gloucester Catholic: Dennis Barth takes over for Al Radano as coach of the defending state Parochial B champion. While the Rams had a number of players graduate, they still have the nucleus to remain among the elite. Jack Marcellus, a senior lefthander, could emerge as one of South Jersey's top pitchers.
Holy Cross: Coach Dan Dengler has eight starters back from a 16-5 team. Lefthander Barry Fennel was a force during the Carpenter Cup, leading the Burlington County team to the final. As a junior, the 6-foot-4 lefthander had 50 strikeouts in 45 innings and a 1.93 ERA.
Overbrook: The Rams return eight starters from a 16-9 team. Leading the list is senior pitcher Mike Potts, an Inquirer second-team all-South Jersey selection who was 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA last season.
Shawnee: The Renegades return five starters and will bring up a solid group of prospects from the junior-varsity team. Shawnee's offensive catalyst is Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey third baseman Ron Walker. Last season Walker hit .478 with 12 doubles, three home runs and 31 RBIs, leading Shawnee to an 18-4 record and the Burlington County League Liberty Division title. The Renegades should be slightly favored in the Liberty over Pemberton and Holy Cross.
Vineland: Any team with Vic and Steve Rivera has to be considered a contender. Steve Rivera is a two-time Inquirer all-South Jersey selection as a pitcher. The senior lefthander has a 19-5 career record. He has made one official recruiting visit, to Southern Florida.
Vic Rivera, Steve's twin brother, has played a number of positions, including catcher and shortstop, and he has pitched.
Vic Rivera caught last year, but suffered an injury to his right knee during basketball season and won't begin this season as a catcher, according to Vineland coach Rich Klimek.
"Vic has been hitting, just not running much during preseason," Klimek said. "We'll have him somewhere in the lineup, but I don't anticipate him catching until around midseason."
Vineland also returns its No. 2 pitcher from last year, junior righthander Jason Adams, who went 5-3. He and Steve Rivera give the Fighting Clan one of South Jersey's better pitching tandems.
BEST CONFERENCE. The Olympic Conference American Division should be the toughest in South Jersey. Washington Township, Cherry Hill West, Edgewood and Overbrook are four teams mentioned as Top 15 contenders. Pennsauken and Cherry Hill East could find themselves in the rankings.
"I know everybody says it, but there are no easy teams in our league," West's Trotman said.
EXCITING OUTFIELDER. South Jersey's most exciting player might be senior Dwayne Jackson of Millville. The 5-8 centerfielder runs down fly balls as well as anybody in South Jersey. He is a fourth-year starter who hit .342 with four home runs, 15 RBIs and 23 runs scored last season.
WELCOME BACK. Ed Rieger has returned to coach Pennsville, where he guided some of South Jersey's powerhouses in the early '80s. Rieger stepped down following the 1987 season and was out of coaching for a few years. He compiled a 188-36 record at Pennsville.
For the last three years, he was the head baseball coach at Delaware's William Penn High.
Rieger replaced Chuck Roney this season at Pennsville. Roney resigned and later took over the head-coaching job at Eastern. Rieger's 1981 squad was the last South Jersey baseball team to go undefeated, piling up a 25-0 record.
With nine starters back from an 11-13 team, Rieger should have the Eagles competitive in a Tri-County Royal Division race that won't lack for contenders.
Gloucester Catholic, Deptford, Woodstown and possibly Kingsway could all be in the hunt in the balanced division.