When it comes time to pencil in a starting lineup, Stanley-Boyd baseball coach Tyler Kopplin won’t need to worry much about who’s patrolling the outfield.
The Orioles have two first team All-Western Cloverbelt Conference selections returning this spring. Both are outfielders.
Collin Meyer, a second team all-district pick as a junior, is back along with Ben Turner, an all-district honorable mention. Meyer, the Oriole’s center fielder, batted .457 with 20 RBIs and 32 runs scored last season. He was also perfect on stolen base attempts, tallying 25 swipes over the course of the season. Turner, a left fielder, hit .453 with four doubles, a home run and a .564 on-base percentage as a junior last year.
Stanley-Boyd also has second team all-conference pick Noah Gillingham and four-year starters Brandon Herrick and Brandon Wright returning. Gillingham hit .372 in Western Cloverbelt play a season ago. Herrick and Wright batted .340 and .324, respectively.
The biggest question mark for the Orioles, who went 15-12 last season and fell in the Division 3 regional finals, will be on the mound. They lost their top two pitchers, Zak Ingersoll and Cole Ciokiewicz, and 80 percent of their innings pitched overall to graduation.
Kopplin expects the group of Herrick, Meyer and Gillingham to lead the way on the mound as the team tries to sort out its pitching staff.
They know what to expect from the offense with a solid, experienced group of hitters back, so figuring out the right combination on the mound will be key to the Orioles’ hopes in the conference title race.
15th-year coach AJ Gehrmann will have the least experienced team of his career this spring.
The Blackhawks will have an entirely new pitching staff this year, along with a mostly new-look offense. Shortstop Zach Ruf earned first team All-Heart O’North Conference honors last season after hitting .365, and he should set the table for the lineup from the leadoff spot.
Adam Malinowski and Cody Goettl also return with varsity experience. Malinowski will play in a plethora of roles for Bloomer as a utility player, and Goettl will patrol the outfield.
Underclassmen will be looked to in order to round out the rest of the lineup and pitching staff. The Blackhawks lost three all-conference players last year in Austin Summerfield, Caleb Mikl and Brandon Faschingbauer.
Gehrmann sees a lot of potential in the underclassmen. Sophomores Avery Macik, Leif Iverson, Carter Rubenzer and Trent Tozer could all see time on the mound, along with freshmen Kaden Thurmond, Cole Schwab and Ethan Rothbauer.
There will be a learning curve for the young Blackhawks in the solid Heart O’North. Hayward won the conference last year, and Cumberland made it to the Division 3 state tournament.
Things can only improve from last year for the Hornets.
Cadott went 0-19 last spring, and has a new coach at the helm in first-year skipper Brandon Mittermeyer.
The Hornets have three seniors on the team: Alex Apple, Brett Bowe and Andrew Gunderson. The rest of the squad will be made up of underclassmen, so there will be plenty of opportunities for playing time up for grabs.
A handful of the underclassmen got varsity experience last year, including sophomores Brady Spaeth and Ethan Tegels.
Mittermeyer said the young team will try to improve each day and attempt to surprise some opponents along the way.
The Knights will have a bit of a new look this season.
The co-op took second place in the East Lakeland Conference and reached the Division 3 regional semifinals last spring, but graduated six seniors from that team. That includes two of the team’s top pitchers: Jeremiah Reedy and Noah Nohr.
Senior Brady Webster returns with varsity experience for Lake Holcombe/Cornell, and 11th-year coach John Lee believes Jerod Jiskra and Wyatt Viegut can step up as two of the team’s top hitters. Jiskra should also see time on the mound, and Viegut will have catching duties.
The rest of the squad will be young, though. Webster and Dalton Kent are the only two seniors on the roster.
Defending East Lakeland champion Clear Lake returns with a highly-talented team and Lee figures the Warriors will be the team to beat in the league again.