Pitching, defense form identity

News editor

The Marion Warriors baseball team returns to action this spring with all but two players from a team that came within three outs of winning the 2012 regional championship and advancing to state. Cole Lewman and David Helmer are the only players who departed.

With 18 players on the team, head coach Roger Schroeder said he expects 12 or 13 players to contribute a lot.

“Whittling it down to nine is the hardest part,” Schroeder said.

With so many returning players, the team’s hallmarks will be much the same as last year: pitching and defense.

“If you can’t pitch and you can’t play defense, you can’t win,” Schroeder said.

Ethan Hett and Grif Case pitched the most innings for Marion last year and should continue to carry a lot of the pitching load. Jacob Harper and Austin Pedersen also pitched quite a bit in 2012. Schroeder said Pedersen sometimes had issues with placement of pitches, but he thinks he can improve this year.

Taylor Heidebrecht may gradually pitch more innings as he continues to fully recover from an injury sustained in football season.

With four games in a typical week, it’s good to have a stock of five pitchers who can be counted on, Schroeder said. He said all of the pitchers can run the speed of their fastballs up, but none of them have such a great fastball that they can throw only fastballs to get batters out.

The defense backing up the pitchers is also solid, Schroeder said.

The Warriors’ offense will have to continue to play small-ball effectively without many power hitters. Schroeder said the team has good gap hitters, but the team has only had six home runs in the past two seasons combined. To make up for the power shortage, the Warriors will need to run the bases aggressively but efficiently.

The Warriors have lost some practice time because of snow and rain early in the season.

“We may not hit our stride until the middle of April,” Schroeder said. “But the weather affected everyone. We’re not the only team in that boat.”

 

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