Evergreen baseball did not have a promising season overall last season (7-18), however, they did finish third in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League. With some experience returning, the Vikings will look to improve their standing in 2018.
“We have a relatively young and enthusiastic group returning this season with nine returning letter winners,” said head coach Brian Nagy, entering his 26th year at the helm. “We lost four key players to graduation from last year’s team. Our younger players showed great improvement during the ACME season last summer and we will have great competition within the team to challenge for starting positions. We have 29 players in the program this spring, so numbers are strong, and we hope to develop greater depth within the system.”
The Vikings’ notable returnees are sophomore Mason Henricks, who was second team All-NWOAL a season ago, and senior David Moore, honorable mention all-league last season.
Other returning letter winners are John Ruth, Josh Dowling, Bryce Hudik, Sam Lubinski, Bryce Eisel, Zach Lumbrezer and Jack Krispin. Their newcomers are Adam Baumgartner, David Carroll, Trevor Cobb, Collin Loeffler, Thomas Pollard, Isaac Yunker and Brian Floyd.
Coach Nagy says the Vikings will have to develop pitching from within to be competitive.
“Dave Moore, Bryce Hudik, Bryce Eisel and Josh Dowling will be our most experienced returners on the mound from last year, while Trevor Cobb, Thomas Pollard, and Collin Loeffler – along with many others – will get their opportunities to log innings for the Vikings on the mound and play a much greater role in the pitching rotation,” he said.
“The new pitch count rule will also add a new element of decision making and pitcher usage throughout its inaugural season.”
The Vikings appear to have some good depth on the defensive side.
“Defensively, Jack Krispin and Isaac Yunker will compete for catching duties,” said Nagy. “Mason Henricks and Zach Lumbrezer return as starting middle infielders, with Collin Loeffler and Adam Baumgartner competing for playing time at those spots. Josh Dowling and Bryce Eisel will compete to start at 3rd . Sam Lubinski, Dave Moore and Thomas Pollard could all see some time at first base. Dave Moore, John Ruth, Bryce Eisel, Bryce Hudik, David Carroll, Trevor Cobb, and several others, will all be battling for outfield positions as well.
“The key to our season will be how quickly we mature, which players step forward and make the most of early opportunities, as our ability to make our opponents earn runs as well as our defense’s ability to limit big innings.”
Evergreen’s offensive numbers were not where their coach wanted them to be last season. That will certainly be a point of emphasis this season.
“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 ability 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 Vikings have to replace a pair of honorable mention all-league performers, Teagen Pinkelman and Phoenix VanOstrand. They also lose Drew Greene and Jayden Adamczyzki.
Nagy has an idea of how the league race will shake out.
“The league race should feature Archbold, Bryan, Delta and Wauseon in the top four, in any order, with Patrick Henry, Swanton, and Liberty Center being real contenders for dark horse of the year,” said the veteran skipper. “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.”
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010