Baseball ready for foes’ best shot
The Marion High School baseball team advanced all the way to the state tournament last year, and because of that experience coach Roger Schroeder expects every opponent to be fired up as the Warriors try to improve on their 2013 season.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” he said.
Schroeder said his goal for the season is that Marion gives every opponent their best shot in return. He said he wants to win the Heart of America League, regionals, and state, but all of those depend in part on other teams, but the Warriors can control their effort every time they take the field.
The Warriors are an experienced team, with many juniors and seniors in the lineup. Some of the seniors will have played 80 varsity games in high school by the end of the season.
“There’s not a thing they haven’t seen the past two years,” Schroeder said.
They have won big games and lost big games, blown opponents out, and been blown out, he said.
The team lost a lot of pitching experience with the graduation of Jacob Harper, Ethan Hett, and Austin Pedersen, but senior Grif Case has pitched since he was a freshman and has been among the team leaders in innings all three years. Along with Case, Luke Steele and Taylor Heidebrecht will form the core of Marion’s pitching.
They don’t have the arm strength to strike opponents out with a steady stream of fastballs, but that shouldn’t be an issue.
“We don’t need to strike everybody out,” Schroeder said.
He coaches the pitchers to pitch to contact and count on the team’s good defense, which is based on a combination of situational awareness and athleticism.
Steele and Caleb Williams will split time at catcher.
“They call their own games,” Schroeder said. “They manage the game from behind the plate.”
Steele and Williams will also spend time at third base. Shortstop Dylan Seacat and second baseman Zach Robson have played side-by-side long enough that they have a good rapport on the field.
Case, Heidebrecht, Bret Voth, Jacob Baldwin, and Zac Lewman will handle most outfield duty. Schroeder said they have good speed as a whole, although the team is missing great speed for centerfield. They all have average or better throwing arms to keep base runners honest.
On offense, don’t expect the Warriors to hit a lot of home runs. Their home field makes hitting home runs difficult, so the team focuses on hitting line drives to the gaps. The team had 40 doubles and a collective .350 batting average last year, and Schroeder thinks it can hit for even more.
“I think we have a chance to be the best offensive team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he said.
The Heart of America League will be challenging, with Inman and Ell-Saline having experience at 2A state last year and a good Sedgwick team. Schroeder also expects the league to be deeper with more competitive teams this year.
The Warriors begin their season Tuesday at Herington. If the season goes according to plan, they’ll finish the year May 29 and 30 at Washburn University’s Falley Field.