The Columbus East baseball team broke one long drought last season when it captured its first Hoosier Hills Conference title since 2001.
This year, the Olympians will try to break another long drought and capture their first sectional since 1999.
“We have a lot of guys coming back and a lot of good underclassmen that have developed in the offseason,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “We have a chance to be pretty good this year.”
The Olympians went 19-7 last season, falling to Bloomington South 6-5 in the sectional semifinals. Most of the key components return from that squad, led by senior pitchers-outfielders Will Anderson and Cam Curry.
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Anderson, a Northern Illinois recruit, batted .371 with three home runs and 27 RBIs and went 5-2 with a save and a 3.15 ERA on the mound. Curry, who is headed to St. Joseph’s, batted .337 with four homers and 22 RBIs and went 3-0 with two saves and a 2.39 ERA.
Senior Nick Beamish, who went 1-1 with a 2.62 ERA, and junior Takahiro Yamada will back up Anderson and Curry in the pitching rotation. Senior Garrett Thrasher, junior Kyle Weiss and senior Connor Roberts also could do some pitching.
“You always want to have two good guys at the top, and then we have a couple more to back them up,” Gratz said. “I feel pretty good about our pitching staff.”
Senior Sam Claycamp (.299, three HR, 19 RBIs), a Dayton recruit, returns at third base. Yamada (.338), who has committed to Butler, started at second base last year and could play there or at shortstop this season. Senior Connor Roberts (.328) returns at first base.
Junior Nick Andrie (.365, 19 RBIs) also saw plenty of action at second and in the outfield last year and could play second or short, along with junior Joey Back. Senior Brock Greiwe did some catching last season and will be behind the plate, along with senior Aaron Hunt.
East has its entire outfield back with Weiss (.412) in left, Curry in center and Anderson in right when they aren’t pitching. Junior Noah Wichman and sophomores Jonathan Foster and Jon Crawford could fill in when one of the three returners is pitching.
Junior Isaiah Davis could see time in the infield or as a pinch-runner.
“We have a good senior class, a talented junior class and a talented sophomore class,” Gratz said. “Our talent level is about as deep as it’s ever been since I’ve been here.”
Gratz and the Olympians hope that can translate into success on the field.
“The HHC championship is always a goal,” Gratz said. “As usual, it’s going to be a big challenge. Our whole conference is pretty tough, so it’s never a cakewalk.
“We also have some postseason goals,” he said. “We want to contend for a sectional championship. I think our sectional is about as tough as any other sectional in the state.”
The 2015 Columbus East baseball schedule:
Friday;at Silver Creek Tournament;5 p.m.
Saturday;at Silver Creek Tournament;TBA
April 8;at Perry Meridian;5:30 p.m.
April 9;at Seymour;4:45 p.m.
April 11;Floyd Central (DH);11 a.m.
April 14;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 18;East Invitational;9 a.m.
April 23;at Bedford North Lawrence;5:30 p.m.
April 25;at Jasper Invitational;10:30 a.m.
May 2;Bloomington South (DH);10 a.m.
May 4;Southport;5 p.m.
May 5;at Greensburg;5 p.m.
May 6;Columbus North;5 p.m.
May 11;at Madison (HHC Tournament);5:30 p.m.
May 13;HHC Tournament;TBA
May 15;HHC Tournament;TBA
May 19;at East Central;5:30 p.m.
May 20;Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
May 21;Franklin;5:30 p.m.
May 22;at Jeffersonville;5 p.m.