HUBER HEIGHTS — With only two returning starters from last year the Wayne varsity baseball team hopes to achieve success this season with virtually an entirely new lineup.
Wayne head coach Joe Yount, who spent 10 years as head softball coach, enters his seventh season leading the varsity baseball team. He anticipates some of his younger players to do well in 2019.
Junior Kaleb Stines is one returning starter. He is slated to play shortstop, second base or centerfield depending on what other players step-up to fill positions. He will also pitch.
“He is a talented kid,” Yount noted. “He can play any position but catcher.”
Caleb Mervar, also a junior, pitched last year and will also play infield.
“I look for Mervar to have a really good year for us,” Yount said. “He wasn’t one of our top four pitchers last year, but as the year went on he was the one kid that we could count on to give us quality innings. He throws a fastball and a changeup only.”
Other players in the pitching rotation include juniors Garrett Valentine, Matt Sexton and Riley Duchesne. A few sophomores that Yount says have been fairly impressive so far are Zach Stevens and Connor Fiegly. Stevens will also play outfield and Fiegly will see action in both the outfield and infield.
“We have other pitchers that are going to fill certain roles for us including senior Nathan Klarer, who has worked very hard to become a decent pitcher,” Yount said. “I think he would fit well into our plans. Among all of our pitchers I think we will be able to stay in games and put a competitive team on the field.”
As far the fielding positions, Yount said players are still battling for starting positions.
“Right now we are plugging in a freshman at catcher, Ben Bochenek,” Yount said. “He is a talented baseball player, but I am leery anytime you put a freshman on a varsity field because you don’t know how they are going to compete. Garrett Valentine, who can play any position, is our emergency catcher. We also have a couple of young catchers on the JV team, sophomore Noah Cain and freshman Zion Pleasant that are also green when it comes to varsity play. But if something happened to Bochenek both of them are good enough defensively to fill-in. I hate throwing any of those younger guys to the wolves.”
Another senior that got some varsity playing time last year is Jordan Long, who will either play shortstop or second base.
“If he can hold down the shortstop position that makes us more flexible with Kaleb Stines,” Yount stated. “I worry about Kaleb the day after he pitches if he would be able to play shortstop. The flexibility Jordan can give us would be important. Jordan had a big hit for us in our scrimmage against Oakwood the other day. He is a leader. All the kids look up to Jordan and I think he can fill the shortstop position. We just haven’t had enough time out on the field to be certain. “
Another senior, Mason Wonderly, who hasn’t had any varsity playing time has been the team’s most consistent hitter so far this spring and has done a good job chasing fly balls down in the outfield.
“You can tell Wonderly has put some work in to be ready to take advantage of playing at the varsity level,” Yount added. “At this point you cross your fingers and hope. As every coach in America says; if we get good pitching and defense we can stay in a lot of games.”
Another senior Yount has high hopes for is Ryan Smith (third base/catcher) who is a decent hitter, but is untested at the varsity level. Sophomore Michael Barnes (second base/pitcher) is a talented player and is very good defensively. Senior Cameron Walker (infield/outfield) will be a utility player with good speed. Sophomore Julian Stiner (first base/third base/pitcher) has a big bat and is a talented player also expected to contribute to the team’s success.
Players that will see action on both the JV and varsity teams include junior Tyler Collis (pitcher), junior Ethan Crace (pitcher), sophomore Noah Cain (catcher), freshman Zion Pleasant (catcher) and freshman Matt Rehmert (pitcher).
The Warriors open the season at home on Monday vs. Chaminade-Julienne at 5 p.m., play at Troy on Wednesday and head to Sidney on Saturday (noon).
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@aimmediamidwest.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind