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One more turn at the plate

Past and present players square off in alumni scrimmage

News editor

The weather was overcast, cool, and breezy Saturday, but as far as Marion High baseball coach Roger Schroeder was concerned, it was a perfect day for a friendly game of hardball.

“This is way better than it was last year,” he said.

In the east dugout, Schroeder’s team was decked out in its regular uniforms, and whether it was going through warm-ups or getting last minute coaching tips, the routine was just like a regular season game.

However, it was a scrimmage, not a game, and their opponents in the west dugout weren’t the regular sort of team they have coming up.

These were Marion High baseball players of yesteryear, dressed out in whatever shirts and pants they could scrape together that were suitable for a romp on the basepaths.

“The whole purpose of this event is to create positive energy for our program,” Schroeder said. “You bring guys back that have been a part of this and want to continue to be a part of it.”

The state high school activities association has rules to follow for alumni scrimmages so they won’t count as actual games, Schroeder said. One of those is that scores are not kept.

However, comments from the alumni made it clear they wanted to redeem themselves from a scoreless shellacking last year.

“They were still licking their wounds from last year, I think,” Schroeder said. “We didn’t keep score last year, either, but it was a lot to a little in our favor.”

Alumni graduation dates stretched back at least 17 years, skewed toward more recent grads like Payton Heidebrecht, who balked at a suggested term for his team.

“I wouldn’t want to call it vintage,” he said.

If score had been kept, Schroeder said, the alumni likely would have eeked out a victory, although that may have been due in part to Schroeder pulling back his starters after the second inning.

“We’re worried about winning our home opener against Council Grove and our league opener against Inman,” Schroeder said. “I’d rather win that than put up a good fight against them.”

Schroeder said his team got a good workout against the former Warriors.

“We got some young guys some experience, we had a lot of fun,” he said. “We had a young freshman out there who gave up six or seven runs and got hit hard. But he kept attacking the strike zone. When he came off the field, I told him, ‘Those are grown men, and you’re 14 years old. You did a good job.’”

Cole Lewman, a 2012 alumnus who threw some pitches as well as played in the field, drove from Wichita for the scrimmage, and he wasn’t disappointed.

“It was definitely different, something you’re not used to every day,” he said. “It was great to be out here with all the guys I used to play with. You get the guys that kind of started this whole baseball thing for the school, and now you get to see how good they really are. They’re fine athletes.”

2017 grad Payton Heidebrecht also pitched, and said he would’ve liked to have seen more of Schroeder’s stable of hurlers.

“I wish they would’ve pitched their whole varsity squad just to see everyone,” he said, “but as a unit, their hitting is not too bad.”

And how did Heidebrecht feel after his turn on the pitcher’s mound?

“I realized why I kind of had to stop playing, because my arm’s kind of killing me,” he said.

Last modified March 29, 2018

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