By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Piqua baseball coach Jared Askins feels the Indians were much better than their record indicated last year.
And while the Indians have to replace a few key elements, including one of the GWOC’s top hitters in shortstop Brian Marsh, along with pitcher Colin Lavey, first baseman Justice Young and outfielders T.J. Gariety, Luke Schneider and Zach Zimpher, Piqua hopes to improve on a 12-15 overall record and a 4-6 mark in the GWOC North.
Marsh batted .519 with nine doubles and 17 RBIs last spring, while Hess batted .421 and Young .338.
Lavey had a 3.90 ERA on the mound.
And while they will be missed, Askins is excited about the returning players.
“That is what has us excited,” Askins said. “These kids drive and desire to be good. Hopefully, we can bring one back for Piqua baseball.”
It starts with a strong pitching staff.
Cam Gordon had a breakout season last year, going 6-2 with a 3.26 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 38 and two-third innings.
Also back are Austin Reedy, a 2.56 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 38 and one-third innings, while Taylor Baumeister showed flashes of being a strong starter.
“Any time you can have depth on the mound, you are excited about that and we have a couple of young guys in Peyton Cartwright and Corbin Meckstroth (both juniors) are pushing for time as well,” Askins said. “Cam (Gordon) and Taylor (Baumeister) had big summers and we are excited about the work they have put in during the off-season. Michael Anderson will some time on the mound as well.”
Buddy Nix will complete the battery behind the plate.
The senior catcher batted .256 with 15 RBI and had a strong summer for Post 184.
Backing him up will be junior Brayden Dohme.
“We are really excited about Buddy Nix and what he did last year,” Askins said. “He is coming off a good summer and we are happy to have him back.”
The infield is set in three of the four spots.
Junior Michael Anderson returns after a strong sophomore season.
He drove in 16 runs and batted 2.54 and followed that with a strong summer
“Michael Anderson had a big year for us last year at third base and we are excited to have him back,” Askins said.
Gordon, Reedy and Baumeister will handle the duties at second and shortstop, depending on who is pitching.
“Cam (Gordon), Austin (Reedy) and Taylor (Baumesier) are the triangle,” Askins said. “They will all pitch and they can all play second or shortstop. Austin will play second most of the time when he is not pitching.”
Noah Gertner and Jacob Teague are two solid returners in the outfield.
They combined for 27 RBI, 13 stolen bases and seven doubles last year.
Gertner batted .351 and Teague had a .339 average.
Among those competing for a spot in the outfield are seniors Levi Hess and Bryan Mayse.
Hess batted .421 last season with with nine RBI and five runs scored, while Mayse batted .290 with 12 RBI and eight runs scored.
Also competing in the outfield will be senior Ethan Trapp and Meckstroth, while among those in the running at first base are seniors Kyle Smith and Thomas Brown.
“Noah Gertner and Jacob Teague are back in the outfield,” Askins said. “The other spot and first base are pretty wide open. Thee could be any number of players that end up playing there.”
Askins likes the makeup of his team.
“We feel like we have a good mix (between speed and power),” he said. “We feel like we can put some pressure on our defenses with out speed. We feel like we should be pretty good on defense. We definitely have some strong arms. We just have to see what happens once we get on the field.”
And Askins expects another tight race in the GWOC North.
I think the league is going to be very competitive — really anybody could win the North,” Askins said. “I know Troy and Sidney both have a couple good pitchers. We are hoping to bring one back for Piqua.”
And Askins feels the Indians have done everything in the off-season to try and make it happen when the season begins Saturday with a home game with Miamisburg at noon.