The Hauser baseball season will begin for the first time nearly two decades without Jerry Schoen at the helm.
Schoen retired after 18 years as the Jets head coach. Taking over is Nate Long, a former Hauser player and an assistant coach the past five seasons.
Besides Jerry Schoen, the Jets lost his son Jared, who was their top pitcher and one of their top hitters from a team that went 13-12 and lost to Jac-Cen-Del in the sectional final.
“I’ll have some depth, as far as my upperclassmen go,” Long said. “When you lose Jared, as well as Nathan Branum and Will Rose and even Aaron Fields, those are tough to replace,” Long said. “But I have some upperclassmen waiting in the wings.”
Junior Sam Meek was Hauser’s No. 2 pitcher and also plays first base. Sophomores Cameron Lawson and Jacob Luken, junior Cameron Hartog and freshman Trey Johnson are battling for No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the pitching rotation.
Sophomore Sean Miller returns at catcher. Johnson or senior Evan Shaw will be at first when Meek is pitching. Hartog likely will be at short, and junior Jacob Johnson returns at third. Shaw and sophomores Aaron Mee and Luken could also play in the middle infield.
Senior Brandon Holt returns in right field. Juniors Jordan Johnson and Jon Hatton are battling in left, and Lawson and freshman Parker Eickbush are vying for the center field spot.
“I have a talented group of kids,” Long said. “A lot of them haven’t necessarily played a lot of innings, but they can fill those voids. It’s going to be finding the right guys to play the right positions, so we might take some lumps early.”
The Crusaders have only 12 players, including just two pitchers with much experience in seniors Connor Graham and Logan Roth.
Roth injured his back and ribs in the National Association of Christian Athletes Tournament basketball championship game and has yet to practice. He also plays first and outfield, while Graham plays shortstop when not pitching.
Senior Evan Reed returns at third, and freshman Josh Jones and junior Kyle Foster are back in center and right. Freshmen Evan Graham in the outfield and C.J. Reed at second and left field also saw action last season.
Senior transfer Kyle Marsh steps in at catcher. Senior Jacob Broaddus and eighth-grader Isaac Carlson could play first, while eighth-grader Garrett Spurgeon could see action in the outfield and eighth-grader Drew Robinson could play outfield, third base and pitch.
Columbus Christian went 2-7 last season.
“With 12 guys, you kind of have to move them around where there’s a void,” Columbus Christian coach Jamey Reed said. “I feel like we’re probably as strong as we have been lineup-wise, but besides Connor and Logan, we’re going to be very inexperienced at pitcher. If we can get good pitching, we’ll be better than we’ve been in the past.”
Trent Hardisty, a varsity assistant the past five years, takes over for Gabe Lowman.
Back to lead the Panthers is senior pitcher-shortstop Tyler Vogel, who has committed to Marian. Senior catcher Bret Sawyer and senior center fielder Matt Kirchner are the other returning starters.
Seniors Garrett Marsh and Bryce Furnish and junior Cameron Hadley are battling at first base. Senior Tanner Miller steps in at second, and could slide over to short when Vogel is pitching, with sophomore Cody Wilson playing second. Sophomore Josh Pettit will be at third or in the outfield.
Juniors Jamin VanVolkenburgh and Jonathan Wagner also could play third, and junior Travis Wilson could be in left or right. Junior Chase Reason could play in the infield or outfield.
Pettit, Marsh, Hadley and Cody Wilson will provide pitching depth behind Vogel.
“I don’t want to say it’s a young group, but we have a lot of kids that haven’t had much varsity experience,” Hardisty said. “I have a plethora of infielders and a lack of outfielders, so some of my infielders might see some time in the outfield.”
Ryan Wilcoxen steps into the coaching position after the Eagles went 4-12 under Kyle Heminger last year. Wilcoxen, had been a volunteer assistant, following a stint as athletics director and assistant coach at Eastern Greene.
Juniors Alex Carney and Grant Suding did some pitching last year, and Suding also played some third base. Junior Tristen Richards started in left field.
Looking to fill some of the other spots are sophomores Brice Walker at shortstop and pitcher; J.T. Perry at first, outfield and pitcher and Jake Riehl in the outfield and pitcher. Sophomore Dylan Carney and freshman Eli Snider and Colby Marker also could pitch.
Senior Noah Ryan who played a little varsity last year, is battling for the starting catcher spot.
“We have a very young and inexperienced squad, but we have a lot to work with here, a lot of talent, and we’re going to ask these freshmen and sophomores to step and do things they haven’t done in their young careers,” Wilcoxen said. “We’re just looking for improvement day in and day out and trying to get the culture set here. I’m impressed with our team so far, just their ability to adapt to a new system.”
The Cougars will look to improve on an 11-13 season.
Seniors Oakley Billingsley and Hunter Seegers provide a solid 1-2 punch on the mound. Billingsley, who also plays second base, has committed to Mount St. Joseph’s, while Seegers, who also plays short, has committed to Manchester.
Junior Devon Martin will play second and short and is the No. 3 pitcher. Sophomore Luke Eden will be in the outfield and at third and will be the No. 4 pitcher.
“We have four guys that we can count on to throw strikes and two guys, Oakley and Hunter, that we really think are A-plus pitchers,” South Decatur coach Kyle Degler said. “I definitely think our (Mid-Hoosier) conference is winnable. We really think we have pitching that will give us a chance to be the best team in the conference.”
Senior Kyle Johannigman steps in at catcher and also can play first, while freshman Brogan Howard could play first or third or catcher. Sophomore Jalen Winchester also could play first. Sophomore Nolan Storm will be in center, and senior newcomer Devin Thomas and junior Bryce Lang could play in the outfield.
Edinburgh graduate Jason Burton, who was an assistant football and baseball coach for the Lancers from 2011-15, returns as head coach. He takes over for Michael Bryant after a 9-14 season.
Junior Zach Murphy, senior Kyle Armel and junior Tavian Cosby all return with pitching experience. Sophomores Coltan Henderson and Zach Giles also will pitch.
Junior Parker Bryant returns at catcher, and Henderson is back at second. Cosby will step in first, with junior Gabe Wilson at short and junior Ryan Gaston at third.
Armel returns in center and will be flanked by sophomore Bryce Burton in left and senior Tristan Browning in right. Senior Keegan Sida also could play in the outfield.
“They’ve had a good offseason these last five months getting in the weight room,” Jason Burton said. “Pitching looks great. We have some guys playing some new spots and have some guys with some things they need to work on. If we adjust well and deal with the adversity early, I think we have a chance to have a great year.”
The Cougars had a big year last season, winning a sectional title before falling by one run to eventual Class A state-runner-up Lanesville in the regional.
Trinity has a new coach in Matt VonDielingen and only 11 players. But six of those are pitchers, led by seniors Jake Moore, Sam Crick and Ross Kruse.
“We have six pitchers, so we feel pretty good about that,” Matt VonDielingen said. “Not many 1A programs have the pitching depth that we have. We lost a couple of good guys, but I think we’re every bit as good this year, if not better.”
Senior Nick Mensendiek and juniors Jacob VonDielingen and Chandler Reynolds also can pitch. Moore also plays outfield, while Crick plays short, Kruse plays short and center, Jacob VonDielingen is the catcher and Mensendiek and Reynolds play first.
The only other returner, junior Jacob Crockett, saw action at right field and second base. Newcomers are senior Kendall White in left, right or third; senior Aaron Bowers in left or right; sophomore Trent Shoemaker at catcher and second and freshman Noah Voelker at second.
The 2017 Hauser and Columbus Christian baseball schedules:
Saturday;at Henryville (DH);11 a.m.
April 3;Milan;5 p.m.
April 6;Edinburgh;5 p.m.
April 7;at Edinburgh;5 p.m.
April 8;Trinity Lutheran (DH);11 a.m.
April 13;at North Decatur;5 p.m.
April 14;North Decatur;5 p.m.
April 15;at Lawrenceburg (DH);2 p.m.
April 18;Greensburg;5 p.m.
April 20;Waldron;5 p.m.
April 21;at Waldron;5 p.m.
April 24;East Central;5 p.m.
April 27;at Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
April 28;Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
April 29;at Jac-Cen-Del (DH);11 a.m.
May 4;at Indian Creek;5 p.m.
May 6;Knightstown;11 a.m.
May 9;Batesville;5:30 p.m.
May 11;at South Decatur;5 p.m.
May 12;South Decatur;5 p.m.
May 15;Morristown;5 p.m.
May 16;at Morristown;5 p.m.
May 22;at Indianapolis Lutheran;5 p.m.
April 3;at Indiana Deaf;5:30 p.m.
April 13;Suburban Christian;5 p.m.
April 15;at Southwestern (Shelby);10 a.m.
April 17;at Hauser JV;5 p.m.
April 20;Indianapolis Tindley;5:30 p.m.
April 21;Horizon Christian;5:30 p.m.
April 24;Crothersville;5:30 p.m.
April 25;at Bethesda Christian;5:30 p.m.
April 26;South Decatur JV;5:30 p.m.
May 3;Traders Point Christian;6 p.m.
May 6;at Madison Shawe;10 a.m.