Countless sports teams have been described as “young and inexperienced.” The Marion High School baseball team, with 10 sophomores and three freshmen among the 17 players on the roster, is definitely young. But don’t try to tell Warriors’ head coach Roger Schroeder they’re inexperienced.
“We have a lot of experience for a team in general, but for such a young team, we have a lot of experience,” Schroeder said. “We bring back all but one major contributor. We lose Matt Sprowls behind the plate from last year, but other than that we bring back everybody.”
A key contingent of returning players is the four-man pitching rotation of juniors Ethan Hett, Austin Pedersen, and Jacob Harper and sophomore Grif Case.
“Those are the four guys we’re going to lean on. They accumulated all but three or four innings on the mound last year,” Schroeder said. “Ethan and Grif led the team with innings on the mound.”
Caleb Williams is the leading candidate to replace Sprowls behind the plate, and Schroeder said Luke Steele and Harper will see action there as well. Whoever is at catcher will have to be a savvy, active field leader, Schroeder said.
“As a former catcher, I put a lot of pressure on kids I put back there,” Schroeder said. “I want kids that want to play the position, not that just want to catch. There’s a difference.”
Dylan Seacat will play shortstop, a position Schroeder said is critical in communicating information to pitchers, infielders, and outfielders.
“Dylan is one of our better fielders, understands the position, and can handle all the responsibilities we’ll put on him,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder expects first-baseman David Helmer to contribute with both his glove and his bat.
“I’ll give up a little bit on the defensive end to get some production, and I’m looking for him to have a big year,” Schroeder said.
When he’s not pitching, Hett will get the call at second base, sharing duties there with Zach Robson.
Harper has been getting some work at third base, but Schroeder said he’s keeping his options open for now.
“We’re kind of putting guys over there and seeing what we can get,” Schroeder said.
Cole Lewman provides senior leadership in the outfield. The success and recognition Lewman had as a junior could make it tougher on him this year at the plate, Schroeder said.
“Being a first-team all-league outfielder, he could have a target on his back. He may not see a lot of good pitches to hit,” Schroeder said. “He has power to hit lots of doubles. He could have a big year.”
Outfielder Taylor Heidebrecht will also play some first base and be used in spots as a pitcher, and Schroeder said he looks for Heidebrecht to be the team’s spark plug as lead-off hitter.
“He was kind of our catalyst last year — as he went, we went,” Schroeder said.
Pedersen will play center field, Schroder said.
“He runs like a gazelle out there. He just has a knack for always being in the right place. We’ll just put him in the outfield and let him run,” Schroeder said.
The Warriors won’t be home run hitters, and will need to be efficient in manufacturing runs to be successful, Schroeder said.
“We’re going to pitch and we’re going to play defense, and we’re going to try to scratch across runs. If we’re in slugfests with teams, we’re going to lose,” Schroeder said.
“We’re going to hit doubles like it’s going out of style. We’ve got to just pepper the gaps, we have a lot of guys who handle the bat well and we can create our own action.”
Marion will open the season March 27 on the road against Herington.