With nine seniors on the roster, this year’s Bureau Valley boys baseball team will have experience on its side.
“We have a lot of returning starters from a year ago,” said BV coach John Matlick, in his sixth year coaching the Storm. “So in regards to experience we do have a lot. It’s a matter now of using that experience from a year ago and applying it to this season. If we can learn from past experience we will have a successful season.”
Matlick, who is still working out his starting lineup and batting order early this spring after spending limited time outdoors due to the weather, is counting on his senior class to provide leadership.
“They all have different qualities that can help lead this team in the right direction,” Matlick said.
This year’s starting pitching staff will consist of senior southpaw Keaton Wagenknecht, and classmate Trevin Kennedy as well as junior Kyle Rokey, who Matlick labels a “workhorse” that he expects to start some big games for the Storm this spring.
“(Rokey) did a nice job for us last season, and I attribute his success to throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count,” Matlick said.
Coming out of the bullpen for relief will be senior Andrew Harshman, and juniors Ryan Young and David Dzurin.
Matlick is looking for solid production at the plate from Kennedy — who will catch when not on the mound — senior first baseman Cody Mattingly, senior shortstop McKinley Kruger, and senior third baseman Bryce Hansen - who Matlick said is benefiting early this spring from opening up his stance.
“Bryce looks sharp at the plate. We made a small change to his stance to allow him to work the whole field. He is a guy that has a good approach at the plate and knows the strike zone. He understands when he needs to be more aggressive or cut it down to make contact,” Matlick said.
With a wealth of returning experience, the Storm, who went 7-25 last year, are looking to take step forward this spring.
“We want to improve on last year’s season,” Matlick said. “We want to get our win total in the double figures this year. We would like to compete for our conference title and we would like to win a regional. I feel our conference this year is pretty wide open and any team can win on any given day. We have to throw strikes, catch and throw the ball, hit with a approach, and run the bases aggressively.”
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.