BRADENTON -- Expectations remain the same year in and year out for the State College of Florida baseball program.
The ultimate prize, of course, is the program's first Junior College World Series title.
SCF, in previous forms as Manatee Junior College and Manatee Community College, has come close to the JUCO national title, but hasn't secured it.
Unlike last season's team that entered with a No. 1 national ranking and finished 32-20, the Manatees arrive in the 2015 spring slate featuring just five returning players and an under-the-radar look.
"They want to compete for a chance at a championship, and at the same time advance their careers, and I think this group has a good chance to do that," SCF head coach Tim Hill II said.
Among the five players returning are pitchers Brooks Norton, Devin Pellien and Tyler Souris. Position players returning are catcher Tyler Dauphinee and outfielder Danny Lee.
"One through nine, we're strong," said Lee, a Manatee High product, about the lineup this year. "We've got guys in our seven-, eight-, nine-hole hitters that can hit in the majority of the teams in Florida, their three-four-fives. And they are mature. For the freshmen we have, they are extremely mature."
The team also returns former Manatee High standout Scott Kelly and University of Miami transfer Frank Grandinette, who both sat out last spring after being on the 2013 fall roster.
"It's a new team, a new season," Dauphinee said.
But a key to this year's club is depth. Hill said depth, the infield and team speed are his club's strengths.
Team speed was a big key to the Kansas City Royals reaching the World Series
last year, and Hill II said he's OK with it translating into a JUCO World Series run this year for his team.
"It worked for them, so if we can get to World Series final, I'll take my chances with that," Hill II said.
On the pitching front, the Manatees are without the power pitching of right-hander Reggie McClain, who finished his sophomore season last spring with a 1.90 earned-run average in 80 1/3 innings and a team-leading three complete games.
McClain is at the University of Missouri now, but in his place is a bevy of capable arms.
They just won't have the high-octane stuff SCF fans have come to expect.
"We don't have a whole lot of velocity on the mound this year," Hill II said. "I think we do have another dominant number one guy, Taylor Cockrell. He'll run it up there every now and then, but his breaking ball's really good and he's a competitor. And he knows how to pitch. So I think he's going to be really good. I think he's one of the best in the state."
The pitching staff runs 16 deep as Hill II said the Manatee have versatility. That provides lots of chances to mix-and-match depending on the situation, which is a key in the long JUCO grind.
"Everybody's throwing pretty well, and I like what I see," Dauphinee said.