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Scrappy Eagles Baseball Team Looks To Lean On Pitching Depth As Season Approaches

2023-24 Holden Eagles Baseball Team… This year’s Holden Eagles baseball team is pictured, front row, left to right, manager Danyelle Samilin, Vince Vance, Jayden Elliott, Eli Burnham, Lane Spoor-Wright, Joseph Samilin, Jackson Wheeler, Blake Naumann, Payton Tye, and Collin Cooper; second row, manager Kasey Naumann, Destry Powell, Garrett Stoyko, Lane Inglis, Lane Siemer, Kale Tryon, Trace Angell, Tyler Barker, Ryan Hough, and Gavin Kitscher; third row, Von Wehmeyer, Hunter Tye, Brasch Williams, Drake Gard, Izaak Williams, Hudson Gregg, Carter Bay, and Anton Waters; fourth row, Noel Petitpierre, Chasen Hall, Wes Brown, Vance Davis, Tucker Kauffman, Dylan Cornwell, Trent Eissler, and Brody Graves; back row, Carter Kephart, Justin Brown, Aiden Morarity, Shad Weiss, Cohen Drake, Mason Foxford, Isaac Bell, and Owen Doogs; not pictured, Jordan Andes, Cole Thomas, and Skyler Willis. Photo by Steve Edwards

 

The Holden high school baseball team opens regular season play this week with a home game against Crest Ridge scheduled for Friday, Mar. 15.

This year’s Eagles team features a roster of just over 40 players with several returners from last year’s conference and district runner-up squad that turned in an overall record of 17-9 on the season and finished at 7-3 in MRVC East play.

“We should be a scrappy, hard-nosed team,” says Holden baseball head coach Charlie Castle as he enters his third season in the lead role. “We should have some pitching depth that features a handful of guys who throw a lot of strikes. Defensive improvement and consistency will be the key to our success.

“We have about 44 kids in the program with 17 freshmen. It’s a lot of kids challenging and creating a productive practice, but it’s a good problem to have. We’ve ended up splitting practices so every kid is getting a lot of reps.”

Returning starters on this year’s team include senior Lane Siemer, juniors Kale Tryon, Tyler Barker, and Trace Angell; and sophomores Cohen Drake, Wes Brown, and Justin Brown.

Siemer returns this season after earning all-district and all-conference recognition last season. The senior has filled the second base spot and served as a starting pitcher over the course of his career.

“He is a great team leader and has been most improved player during the early practices as he has really developed some speed that should help as he may have to play a variety of infield positions for us, instead of just second base,” says coach Castle of Siemer. “He had a decent junior year with a .269 batting average and was 3-3 on the mound with a 2.18 ERA, but I look for him to post much better numbers this year. We think he will be very productive on the mound and will start the year at the top of the rotation.”

Tryon and Drake return after filling infield spots last season. Drake also spent time on the hill as a pitcher.

“Kale is an excellent defensive first baseman who also is a scrapper at the plate, hitting .364,” says coach Castle. “He is a very good base runner also as he has great instincts. We are hoping we can find a suitable replacement for him at first base so he can play some outfield this year as he tracks the ball very well.

“Cohen led the team with a .414 batting average last year,” notes coach Castle. “He has tremendous promise on the mound and showed glimpses of that in limited innings last year when he went 2-0 with a 5.38 ERA in 13 innings. He also was a capable defender last year while playing multiple infield positions, and his continued development is vital for us.”

Barker will look for a home in the infield after playing in the outfield last season.

“Tyler is a smart player who finished with a .255 batting average last year,” says coach Castle. “He is a natural infielder that played in left field last year as we had a need, and he should return to the infield this year. He may get some time on the mound, and will do whatever it takes to help the team win.”

Angell will look for a more permanent role this season after spending time behind the plate in a spot catcher role last season.
“Trace had a couple of key hits for the team early in the season before being plagued by a wrist injury that limited his availability for most of the season,” says coach Castle. “He batted .323 in limited time. His versatility will help get him on the field as he can play a variety o infield positions, catch, and even relief pitch, if needed.”

Wes Brown returns after covering ground in center field last year and serving as a capable hitter. He also climbed onto the hill to pitch.

“Wes is a talented left-hander who can bring it on the mound,” says coach Castle. “He was 1-1 last year with a 1.67 ERA in 21 innings. His innings will likely double this year. He is a good top of the lineup hitter that finished at .316, and the potential is there for that to be even better this year.”

Justin Brown will look for a regular spot on the field after gaining playing time in the lineup during the latter part of last season.

“Justin is a good athlete who worked his way up from the JV team late in the year, and was a pleasant surprise offensively,” says coach Castle. “He finished with a .324 batting average and showed he can hit a variety of pitching. He will likely be in the middle of the lineup this year and could emerge as our best hitter.”

As with most teams entering a new season, losses due to graduation leave holes to fill on the field.

Coach Castle highlights graduated seniors Garrett Smith, Carson Gard, and Bryce Faust as key graduated losses from last season. Also, current senior Aiden Morarity will miss the upcoming season as he recovers from an injury.

“Garrett Smith was a great player, and we will definitely miss the way he was able to eat innings on the mound,” says coach Castle of Smith who is currently playing on the collegiate level. “He was a solid hitter and infielder, too.

“Carson Gard was a solid defensive catcher. After a slow start offensively, was maybe our top hitter the second half of the season. Bryce Faust was a good defensive player in the outfield. He was also a high-character guy who will be missed for a variety of reasons.

“Aiden Morarity is a phenomenal talent that will be missed,” added coach Castle. “There are not too many kids 6’-4”, and can throw close to 90 mph. I feel bad for the kid as his knee injury prevents him from playing his senior year.”

Fortunately, for coach Castle and the baseball team’s assistant coaching staff of JV coach Jeff Smith, C team coach Trent Pritchard, and volunteer assistants Aaron Andes and Dylan Hardy, players likely to fill vacant roles are emerging in early practices.

Players listed by coach Castle as competing for spots in the varsity rotation include seniors Lane Inglis and Isaac Bell, juniors Vance Davis, Ryan Hough, and Mason Foxford; and sophomores Drake Gard and Tucker Kauffman.

Inglis and Davis will both look for innings on the mound in the deep pitching rotation. Inglis is also on the depth chart to play second base. Davis is in the mix to play third base.

“Lane will definitely get some innings on the mound as he did well in limited varsity opportunities last year,” says coach Castle. “He is a solid glove at second base. Vance is an interesting prospect who has a very strong arm and showed the ability to hit on the JV level last year.”

Gard and Foxford are vying for playing time to call signals in the catcher spot.

“They are competing to be the starting catcher, a very key position, especially for this team,” says coach Castle. “They will likely split time at first, and hopefully we can settle in on one of them by the middle of the year. We may have to go through some growing pains early on, but both have shown glimpses defensively and will get even better with experience.”

Bell will look to dig out throws at first base and could…

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