With all three of their all-league performers gone to graduation, the Evergreen baseball team will use their depth, as well as a healthy competition for positions in order to make themselves better in 2016.
“We have a very inexperienced group returning,” said veteran coach Brian Nagy. “We lost nine players to graduation from last year’s district tournament team. Our younger players showed great improvement during the ACME season last summer and we will have great competition within the team to challenge for starting positions.
“The key to our season will be how quickly we mature and our ability to make our opponents earn runs as well as our defense’s ability to limit big innings.”
Among those players lost was Kyle Brighton who was second team All-NWOAL, and Austin Krieger and Landon Lumbrezer who each made honorable mention all-league.
However, returning for the Vikings are Nick Etue, Alec Truckor, Noah Eisel, Levi Carson, and Teagen Pinkelman.
Coach Nagy will likely have to spend a lot of time, especially early on in the season, figuring out what roles suit each of his players best. And it starts with the pitching staff.
“Nick Etue will be our most experienced returner on the mound from last year, while Alec Truckor, Teagen Pinkelman, Levi Carson, David Moore, Travis Newcomb, Bryce Hudik and many others will get their opportunities to log innings for the Vikings on the mound and play a much greater role in the pitching rotation,” said the skipper. “We will have to develop pitching from within our ranks in order to be competitive day in and day out with the compacted schedule and very few off days throughout the spring season.”
There will be competition for numerous positions on the Vikings’ roster.
“Defensively, Nick Etue, Noah Eisel and Jayden Adamczewski will compete for catching duties while Phoenix VanOstrand, Alec Truckor, Nick Hudik, and Teagen Pinkelman will compete to start in the middle of the infield. Eisel and VanOstrand along with Jon Milliken and Brendon Canfield could all see some time at first base. Third base will be a wide open competition in the preseason with several players having a shot at taking control of that position. Alec Truckor, Nick Etue, Drew Greene, Levi Carson and Jon Milliken will all be battling for outfield positions as well. There are several younger players who have a chance to make a good impression during the preseason and possibly outcompete an older player for a position.
“Offensively we continue to look for more consistency and better production with runners in scoring position, as well as developing our ability to string together several productive at bats in a row. Our team will have to learn how to do the little things within the game in order for us to compete on a daily basis.”
Nagy sees the NWOAL as being a battle between three teams, while also noting that the league should be competitive as a whole.
“The league race should feature Bryan, Wauseon and Archbold in the top three, in any order, with Patrick Henry, Swanton, Montpelier, Delta, and Liberty Center being real contenders for dark horse of the year,” he said. “Any of the teams in the league are capable of knocking off anybody else on any given afternoon. It should be another very exciting spring season.”
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010