This year’s Holden high school baseball team features five returning starters from last year’s squad which finished the season with a district title, and an appearance in the state playoffs.
A solid returning pitching core, and key position players highlight the team’s roster entering the season with a mix of players vying for playing time.
Head coach Charlie Castle looks to fortify last year’s robust pitching staff, and seeks improved performance in the team’s overall performance at the plate this season. Seniors Carson Gard, Eddie Bartkoski, Dom Sizemore, Garrett Smith, Bryce Faust, and Alessio Martinolli compose this year’s senior class of players as underclassmen look to fill multiple roles.
“We are going to be challenged for sure as we have added more games against some very tough teams,” says coach Castle. “Last year, we were able to get away with using three pitchers for a majority of the season because our games were spread out, partly due to rain.
“Our pitching depth will definitely be tested a lot more if the weather cooperates this year, and I am excited because it will give kids some opportunities to show what they can do on the mound.”
Starting pitcher Garrett Smith returns for his senior season. Pitchers Aiden Morarity and Lane Siemer in their junior year also return as Smith, Morarity, and Siemer provided Holden’s core of three pitchers last season.
“Last year, pitching was definitely the strength of our team as it gave us a chance to win every game,” says coach Castle. “I hope we can post similar numbers this year since we have nearly everyone back, plus a couple of talented freshmen. Our defense was solid for the most part too last year, probably due to the fact that our pitchers threw a lot of strikes.”
Siemer led the charge from the hill last season in the wins category by posting a record of 7-0 with an ERA of 1.56. He filled the second base spot when not delivering pitches to the plate, and posted a batting average of .278. Siemer earned all-conference, and all-district honors last season.
“He really solidified our staff, and took on a bigger role as the season went on,” says coach Castle of Siemer.
Morarity put up a record of 4-1 on the mound, and claimed the shortstop position when not pitching. He totaled an ERA of 1.72, tallied a batting average of .394, knocked in 23 RBIs, and hit one home run last season. Morarity received honorable all-state recognition last season to go with first team all-conference, and first team all-district honors.
“We used him as a closer only last year,” notes coach Castle in regard to Morarity. “He will probably double his innings this year, and get some starts on the mound as well.”
Smith returns after putting up a .365 batting average with 24 RBIs, and two home runs. On the mound, he totaled a record of 4-5, and posted an ERA of 1.14. For his play last season, Smith received First Team MRVC-East recognition, an all-district nod, and was named as an honorable mention all-state selection.
“He was a tough-luck pitcher as he dropped three close conference games he pitched well enough to win,” says coach Castle of Smith.
Senior Carson Gard is set to return with the ability to fill multiple positions on the field, and is likely to call signals from the backstop spot with last year’s starting catcher, Aiden Christian, out as he recovers from an offseason surgery.
“Carson was our leadoff batter, and hit .386,” says coach Castle. “He was a true utility man as he played several defensive positions well, and moved around depending on who was pitching that day. He is going to be our starting catcher this year since Aiden Christian could miss all the season recovering from shoulder surgery.
“Carson is a very good defensive catcher with a strong arm, so I think we’ll be fine defensively. We are just going to miss Christian’s bat and physical presence.”
Returning starter Kale Tryon looks to expand his role on the team this season after filling the first base spot last year during his freshman campaign.
“Kale is an excellent defensive first baseman who held his own at the plate as a freshman,” says coach Castle. “He hit .236 with 15 walks, and several clutch hits in the postseason. He will likely also see some time in center field this season.”
Some new faces will look for opportunities this season after the graduation of all-state player Danny Hartzler, and starting centerfielder Hunter Higgins. Chance Agcopra is also gone from this year’s roster due to graduation.
A mix of returning seniors and underclassmen, as well as incoming freshmen look to compete for varsity roles this season to fill vacated spots, or to allow lineup changes from game to game.
Freshman player Wes Brown looks to roam the middle outfield, and to provide depth on the mound.
“Wes Brown is a very skilled left-handed player who will be our starting center fielder to open the season, and should add depth to our pitching staff,” says coach Castle.
Senior Bryce Faust and sophomore Tyler Barker look to fill outfield roles as well.
“Bryce Faust is coming off of a breakout football season, and has been playing with confidence,” says coach Castle. “He will likely open the season in right field.
“Tyler Barker is making the transition from the infield to the outfield, and has looked very good in left field. He is a smart baseball kid who loves the game, and really competes at the plate.”
Freshman Cohen Drake and sophomore Trace Angell join the upper part of the infield depth chart with proven starters Smith, Morarity, Siemer, and Tryon. Drake is also a prospect for pitching appearances. Angell looks to use experience gained as a junior varsity catcher last season as a gateway for opportunities behind the plate this season.
“Cohen Drake looks to be a very good pitcher who will likely also see some time on the infield, depending on who is pitching that day,” says coach Castle. “Trace Angell will be the back-up catcher, and also is competing for some time on the infield.”
Coach Castle notes that the team’s pitching depth also includes prospects Lane Inglis, and Isaac Bell, both in their junior season.
Last season, the Eagles posted a record of 5-5 in MRVC-East play to finish in fourth place.
“It is going to be another tight race again this year, and there are some very good pitchers returning,” reports coach Castle of the league lineup.
“Where we have to get better is offensively,” pinpoints coach Castle. “We struggled against the top tier pitchers to make contact, and it really hurt us in conference play. Hopefully, we can make some strides this year because if we do, I feel we can be a very good team.”
The team opened the season on Monday of this week with a run-rule shortened win over Sherwood by the final score of 13-0. Look for the complete game article in next week’s edition of The Image.
Field Note…This season’s baseball schedule will be adjusted as the process of installing all-weather field turf at the high school baseball stadium is set to begin the first week of April. For an updated Holden Eagles baseball schedule, check the calendar section on the Holden R-3 website at holdenschools.org.