Brendon Little and his Conestoga baseball teammates have unfinished business after advancing to the PIAA Class AAAA state final last season and losing to La Salle in eight innings.
"We lost quite a few seniors, but we expect to have another successful year," Little said. "The new guys are coming along nicely."
The return of Little, a hard-throwing lefthander and North Carolina recruit, goes a long way toward the team's primary goal of claiming a Central League title. He delivers a fastball that tops out at 94 m.p.h.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder also has a curveball clocked in the upper 70s, a circle change-up, and a cutter he recently added. "It's right up there with my fastball," he said of his curveball. "It's been very reliable."
Little, a third-year varsity player, mostly rested his arm during the winter. He lifted weights and worked on his mechanics with All-Star Baseball Academy director Mike Manning.
"What separates him is his tireless work ethic and intelligence," Manning said. "He's always looking to improve not only his pitching but his overall fitness."
Little, of Malvern, impressed scouts last summer in the East Coast Professional Showcase in Syracuse, N.Y., and at the Area Code Baseball Games in Long Beach, Calif.
"I have personally spoken to at least 10 major-league clubs that are going to make it a point to see him pitch multiple times, weather permitting, this spring," Manning said.
Little pitched in tournaments last summer for All-Star Baseball Academy in Georgia and North Carolina. His teammates included Malvern Prep first baseman/pitcher Tim Quinn (George Mason recruit) and Spring-Ford outfielder-pitcher Cameron Simmons (Virginia).
"In my opinion, Brendon is one of the top high school lefthanders in the country," Manning said. "He commands the zone with three pitches, his fastball is in the 90- to 94-m.p.h. range, and his curveball and change-up are college- or pro-ready right now."
Little was an outfielder, catcher, and pitcher in the Berwyn-Paoli Little League. He focused on pitching as a sophomore at Conestoga. His two older brothers, Austin, the ace of the Pioneers' 2011 state-championship squad, and Jordan, were also southpaw hurlers.
Brendon Little chose North Carolina over Boston College, Connecticut, and Nebraska. The Tar Heels, ranked No. 18 in the country, host No. 10 Miami in a series this weekend.
"I fell in love with the campus and Chapel Hill when I was there," the 18-year-old said. "And I felt the school offered the best combination of academics and athletics."
Conestoga, which went 20-8 last season, is scheduled to open the season at home Monday vs. Central League rival Garnet Valley.