Seven returning letter winners will lead the Cougars out onto the baseball diamond this season.

Mabel-Canton brings back two-time All-SEC Honorable Mention Noah Manning, a player noted for his outstanding defensive skills. Manning also won the Most Improved Player award in 2012 team voting. Moving from shortstop to catcher last season, Manning scored 10 runs; added 6 runs batted in, and swatted 11 hits last season. He also filled in at pitcher, working 25.1 innings and striking out 20 batters.

Two other juniors also lettered. Collin O'Bieglo is listed as an infielder, as is Justin Ward.

Four sophomore letter winners return. They include infielder Keyser Wenthold, outfielder Donnie Lind, infielder Jon Selness and infielder Wesley Richert.

The 2013 team may develop into a group that that will essentially become a unit for two seasons. At present, there are no seniors on the roster.

Other players include juniors Riley Marlow and Mac Nelson, who are both slated for service in the infield.

Freshman class members Mitch Kuhn (infield), Bryce Michels (outfield), Tannor Fairchild (outfield), and Mitch Lee (outfield) will compete for playing time, as will eighth-grader Weston Whalen (outfield).

Veteran head coach Karl Urbaniak has led the program since 1985. He's joined by assistant coach Paul Tollefsrud.

"This season really is an unknown," Urbaniak said. "We think we have the potential to develop some pretty solid pitching. Hitting-wise we graduated Jacoby Bigalk and Gabe Lind who were our leadoff man and third hitter. Jacoby was one of the best hitters in the league. It should be fun seeing how we develop."

M-C went 5-15 overall while Lyle/Pacelli won the Southeast Conference last season. Urbaniak didn't comment on the SEC race, but did say that in region 1A section play, a "couple of teams who play in the Three Rivers Conference" will be considered favorites this year.

Weather permitting, the Cougars will open play on April 9, hosting Houston. On Saturday, April 13, M-C visits Onalaska Luther.