Using momentum from a strong summer and backed with a roster full of experience, the Delta baseball team has hopes of making a big leap forward this season.
“This team showed good signs last summer during our ACME season and in the State ACME Tournement,” said head coach Damon Mattimore. “Also, with the addition of some new faces we should be very competitive this season. We are committed to never be satisfied, and to work together as a team.”
The Panthers have a pair of all-league performers back in Austin Sayen who was second team All-NWOAL, and Blake Gladieux who was honorable mention All-NWOAL.
Sayen returns after finishing last season with a .367 batting average, .425 on base percentage, and 13 runs batted in. On the mound, Gladieux held a 2.89 earned run average to go along with 37 strikeouts to only three walks.
Also returning for the Panthers are Aaron Abbott, Ron Vargyas, Tim Sonick, Owen Jagodzinski, Jacob Buchhop, Gabe Freeman and Jason Beverly. However, they lose Parker Phillips (honorable mention all-league) and Grant Yoder to graduation.
“We have an older, experienced group of varsity baseball players this year, and some athletic players that have come out for baseball for the first time in their high school careers,” said Mattimore. “This core group has played a lot of baseball. They are very coachable and they want to prove that they can compete at the varsity level.”
Newcomers looking to make an impact are Beau Clausen, Marc Callahan, Evan Vasquez, Travis Barnes, and Caleb Toadvine.
Outside of Gladieux, the Panther coach does have some concerns about his pitching staff.
“Pitching will be an issue. We don’t have a lock down number one guy,” he said. “With hitting, we need to hit better as a team this year – we hit .235 last year.”
He then added that the number of upperclassmen with no varsity baseball experience is also a concern.
Like many other coaches in the NWOAL, Mattimore looks at Bryan as the favorite to repeat as league champs.
“The NWOAL continues to be one of the strongest leagues in the area,” he stated. “We feel Bryan is the league favorite until someone is able to take the title away from them. We feel they will be a front-runner in the league this season. (Bryan), Wauseon, Archbold, Patrick Henry, Montpelier, Swanton, Evergreen, Liberty Center, is how we see the rankings for the season.
“We feel that we will have to compete night in and night out to be in the top tier of the NWOAL. Any of the teams in the league are capable of knocking off anybody else on any given afternoon. It should be another exciting spring season. “
Max Householder can be reached at 419-335-2010