Vikings aim to improve league standing

By Max Householder -

The Evergreen baseball team hopes to improve on a rough 2018 season which saw them finish with a 3-16 record. They will do so with depth on the mound and a roster that includes 10 returning letter winners.

“The key to our season will be how quickly we mature, which players step forward and make the most of early opportunities, our ability to make our opponents earn runs, as well as our defense’s ability to limit big innings,” said veteran head coach Brian Nagy.

“We showed great improvement during the ACME season last summer and we will have great competition within the team to challenge for starting positions,” added Nagy. “We have 29 players in the program this spring, so numbers are strong and we hope to develop greater depth within the system.”

Notable returnees for the Vikings include Mason Henricks, a second team All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League performer a year ago, and Bryce Hudik, who was honorable mention All-NWOAL.

Other returning letter winners are Sam Lubinski, Bryce Eisel, Zach Lumbrezer, Adam Baumgartner, David Carroll, Collin Loeffler, Thomas Pollard and Jack Krispin.

However, they do lose David Moore and Josh Dowling, both of whom were honorable mention all-league in 2018. Their newcomers are Garrett Betz, Jadine Young, Payton Boucher, Evan Lumbrezer, Brock Hudik, RJ Schnunck and Landon Vance.

With a full roster, the Vikings should be able to develop a nice pitching rotation.

“Bryce Hudik and Bryce Eisel will be our most experienced returners on the mound from last year, while Thomas Pollard had a promising summer and Collin Loeffler, Sam Lubinski and Mason Henricks will have an expanded role on the mound this season,” explained Nagy. “Several freshmen may get a chance to pitch in varsity games this season as well, with Payton Boucher, Brock Hudik, RJ Schunck and Landon Vance pushing the older players for varsity innings. We will have to develop pitching from within our ranks in order to be competitive day in and day out with the compacted schedule and very few off days throughout the spring season.”

The Vikings hope competition breeds success as it relates to positions in the field.

“Defensively, Jack Krispin and Bryce Eisel will compete for catching duties, with sophomore David Fuller returning from injury as well,” said the Viking coach. “Mason Henricks will hold down the third base spot with Zach Lumbrezer and Adam Baumgartner starting in middle infield spots. Collin Loeffler and a host of freshmen (will compete) for playing time at those spots. Sam Lubinski, Bryce Hudik and RJ Schunck, as well as Thomas Pollard, could all see some time at first base. Bryce Eisel, Bryce Hudik, David Carroll, Collin Loeffler, Garrett Betz and Jadine Young will all be battling for outfield positions as well. There are several younger players who have a chance to make a good impression during the preseason and possibly outcompete an older player for a position.”

Nagy is banking on another year under some of his players’ belts helping them in the batter’s box.

“Offensively we continue to look for more consistency and better production with runners in scoring position, as well as developing our ability to string together several productive at bats in a row,” he said. “Our extra base hit numbers were down significantly last year and we hope to improve our gap-to-gap power this season. Our team will have to learn how to do the little things within the game in order for us to compete on a daily basis. Intelligently-aggressive base running may be the most important improvement for our potential offensive success.”

The Viking coach sees a competitive league race in 2019. His squad was 2-5 in the NWOAL last season.

“The league race should feature Archbold, Bryan and Wauseon in the top three, in any order, with Patrick Henry, Swanton, Delta and Liberty Center being real contenders for dark horse of the year,” said Nagy. “Evergreen has a chance to be a real surprise this year if we mature early and learn how to win the close games. Any of the teams in the league are capable of knocking off anybody else on any given afternoon. It should be another very exciting spring season.”

Evergreen begins the season this Saturday at Otsego. First pitch is slated for 11 a.m.

By Max Householder

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010