About 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, the small liberal arts college of Washington and Jefferson in Washington, Pa., seemed to provide the perfect setting for Mike Kennedy.

About 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, the small liberal arts college of Washington and Jefferson in Washington, Pa., seemed to provide the perfect setting for Mike Kennedy.

The Hilliard Darby High School baseball standout knew of its business school, but also heard promises from coach Jeff Mountain, one of the best in the Division III President's Athletic Conference.

"I was recruited heavily because he was losing a lot of guys," said Kennedy, who left the Panthers program in 2006.

"I knew there was going to be an opportunity to play early and I knew coach Mountain would be relying on the freshman class."

Ever since, three other Darby graduates have followed Kennedy to the PAC with the hope of contributing as underclassmen.

Nate Tieman (Bethany, W.Va., College) and Adam Scheiderer (Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa.), who graduated from Darby in in 2008, found early success this spring. Brian Warning (Thiel College in Greenville, Pa.), a pitcher who left Darby in 2007, hopes to get a shot to prove himself next season after sitting out with a medical condition.

"All four of those guys helped get our program where it is today and it's kind of neat that they're all playing in the same conference," Darby coach Chris Fugitt said.

"It's not far from home and they're playing good college baseball. I know coaches in the conference have recruited a number of guys from central Ohio."

The former teammates saw a lot of each other this spring with the league schedule set up to play opponents three times over a span of two days in a home-and-away series.

Kennedy was part of a record-breaking season at Washington and Jefferson, which at 35-14 set a program record for victories and made its first appearance in the NCAA tourn-ament.

As a starter at third base, Kennedy batted .317 with six doubles, three home runs and 25 RBI.

He's expected to be one of nine returning starters next season.

"I had a good Florida trip and started off strong unlike the year before," he said.

"I've found my swing a little bit more. I batted seventh in the order for most of the year and really got some good pitches to hit."

While Bethany suffered through a tough season and finished 3-33, Tieman saw plenty of playing time as a freshman.

He finished as the Bison's leading hitter (.361, 10 RBI) and boasted a team-best .480 on-base percentage. He also had a team-high 18 walks.

At Geneva, which finished at 22-15 overall, Scheiderer started in 11 games at catcher. He hit .300 with two doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI.

Scheiderer also was recruited by Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio Northern, but his decision came down to financial aid and playing time. Geneva had the best offer.

"The coaches really backed up what they had told me about playing time and that only made me more confident," Scheiderer said.

"I consistently saw playing time this year and next year I hope to split time behind the plate and (designated hitter)."

Warning also realized his chances to play would be better after he helped Darby win its first OCC and district championships in 2007.

It was that year that he began to realize something wasn't right. He would get dizzy and numb during practices.

Doctors diagnosed him with POTS dysautonomia, a condition which affects the body's autonomic system. It's involvedin controlling vital functions such as heart rates, blood pressure, temperature and respiration.

"I think as far as my baseball IQ goes I learned a lot more by not playing and just seeing things develop from the bench," Warning said. "It was a different perspective."

Warning's team faced Kennedy's team in the conference tournament championship where it fell 19-18 and 7-4.

In the NCAA regional, Washington and Jefferson went 2-2.

"It's always fun to run into the guys and talk," Warning said.

"I think winning those championships at Darby is something that we're all proud of. But when we see each other now it's not all about baseball. It's more about how's life and school."