Going into last baseball season, Columbus East had almost no pitching experience.
That certainly is not the case this year. The Olympians have a plethora of talent returning on the mound, and they hope that will lead to a big season.
“We’re extremely deep with pitching talent,” East coach Jon Gratz said. “We have 10 or 11 guys that we feel confident putting out on the mound this year. Right now, offensively, we have some work to do, but we have some key bats back in the lineup, so we have a chance to be a pretty good offensive team, as well.”
The Olympians return a solid 1-2 punch on the mound with junior Drew Hasson and senior Jon Crawford. Hasson went 3-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season, while Crawford went 8-0 with a 3.76 ERA.
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Sophomore Julian Greenwell (2-1, 3.23 ERA) and seniors Eric McMullen (2-1, 4.27 ERA) and Jonathan Foster (0-1, 2.55 ERA) also threw plenty of innings last year. Junior Alex Burnett and freshman Cole Gilley could be spot starters, and basketball standout Tanner McFall, who has returned to baseball after taking last spring off, could pitch in relief.
Junior Charlie Burton (.338, two HR, 18 RBIs) is back behind the plate. Hasson (.450) and senior Luke Hostetler (.303, 17 RBIs) played first base, and junior Josh Major (.265, 12 RBIs) returns at shortstop.
Crawford (.377, 22 RBIs) and Hostetler can play left field, Foster (.291) is back in center and Greenwell or Hostetler can play right. Senior Harry Crider (.344, two HR, 11 RBIs) could be the designated hitter.
Sophomore Jonah Wichman, junior Brady Harrison and McMullen are vying for the open spot at second base. Sophomore Nash Murphy, Burnett and Gilley are battling at third.
“We have a lot of options at a lot of spots,” Gratz said. “We’ll play around with it early until someone separates themselves at those positions.”
East is coming off an 18-8-1 season. The Olympians made it to the sectional final before falling to Bloomington South.
The Olympians are seeking for their first sectional title since 1999.
“We’re trying not to look at outcome-oriented goals,” Gratz said. “It’s more process-oriented goals. Getting better every day is what we’re trying to do. If we take care of that, everything else will take care of themselves.”
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The 2017 Columbus East baseball schedule:
Saturday:Deerfield (Illinois) (DH); 10 a.m.
April 4;Cathedral;5:30 p.m.
April 5;at Perry Meridian;5:30 p.m.
April 6;at Seymour;6 p.m.
April 8;vs. Floyd Central at Madison;11 a.m.
April 8;at Madison;1 p.m.
April 11;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 13;at Batesville;5:30 p.m.
April 15;East Invitational;11 a.m.
April 18;at Jeffersonville;6 p.m.
April 20;at Bedford North Lawrence;6 p.m.
April 22;at Jasper Inviatational;10:30 a.m.
April 27;at Jennings County;5 p.m.
April 29;Bloomington South (DH);10 a.m.
May 1;Southport;6 p.m.
May 3;Columbus North;5 p.m.
May 6;Austin;10 a.m.
May 8;Jennings County in HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.
May 10;at HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.
May 12;HHC tourney;5:30 p.m.
May 16;at East Central;5:30 p.m.
May 17;Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
May 18;Franklin;5:30 p.m.
May 19;at Jeffersonville;6 p.m.
May 23;at Whiteland;5:30 p.m.