Deep pitching staff key for Manchester baseball team
NEW FRANKLIN — Head coach Derrick Mauger said his Manchester High School baseball squad will be looking to make a leap up in the Principals Athletic Conference (PAC-7) standings this season.
Last year, the team finished 16-11 overall and 8-6 in the PAC-7. The Panthers were fourth in the league.
“I think, realistically, we can win more games than we did last season,” Mauger said. “Our players have set the goal to win the PAC. I teach these kids that it means nothing to set a goal that can easily be achieved, because what have you really accomplished? Set your goals high, and if you fall short, you have still achieved more than you would have if the goal was easy.”
The team’s strength this season, Mauger said, is “a very solid pitching staff.”
“Last year, when [senior] Mitch Keim was injured, Evan Griffiths, Chandler Stahl and Jake Bumgarner all stepped up their game on the mound,” the coach said. “Mitch was 5-0 at the time of his injury and our unquestioned ace. We went 7-2 down the stretch with these guys leading the way. They will all be in their third year on varsity, so they have a ton of experience.”
Mauger said the Panthers have further rounded out the pitching staff by adding juniors Josh Seidel, Jeff Campbell and Zack Ford, sophomores Anthony Miltner and Sterling Jackson, and freshman Mason Nist.
“We have a lot of experience at the front of our staff and a lot of promising talent to support them,” the coach said.
According to Mauger, this year’s team features a good mix of experience, with six returnees and seven newcomers.
“In addition to [senior] Bumgarner, [juniors] Griffiths and Stahl, [senior] Allan Betz, [senior] Richie Ashley and [junior] Jesse Winter are returning lettermen,” he said. “Our other newcomer is [junior] Kyle Gross.”
A trio of seniors will be looking to provide leadership to the team this season.
“Allan Betz is a catcher. He is a three-year letter-winner and a vocal leader. He is moving back behind the plate after the departure of Cody Herman. He has a very high baseball IQ and handles the pitching staff very well. He was fifth on the team in hits last year,” Mauger stated. “Jake Bumgarner is a centerfielder and pitcher. He is also in his third year of varsity. Jake led the team in runs and was third on the team in hits last year. Richie Ashley is in his second year of varsity. He is moving to first base after playing outfield last year. He has improved in all areas and has shown a better approach at the plate this year. I really think he can a have a great senior season.”
Mauger said he is interested in seeing whether his team can make the necessary strides at the plate this season.
“Our hitting is improving, but of the three parts of the game, it is probably our weakest,” he said. “I have seen improvement from last year from Richie and Jesse Winter, who are both swinging the bat better now than they did last season. One year of maturity and experience really makes a difference. This early it is really hard to know what we are going to do, but I have been pleased with our progress.”
Manchester’s season is scheduled to begin with a doubleheader March 30 at Smithville High School. The first game will begin at 11 a.m.
Mauger is in his sixth season as the team’s head varsity coach and his ninth season overall with the program.
“I have been assisted by Lee Harget and Dave Frak for all six years, and this year I added John Stahl,” he said. “The JV [junior varsity] team is coached by Bryan Snyder in his fourth year as head coach and sixth overall. The JV team consists of sophomores Mike Esterle, Luke Hasso, Tom Headley, Dan Leemaster, Colin McMasters, Cole Richmond and Justin Winter and freshmen Jimmy Kinkead, Caleb Johnston, Noah Michel and Jake Stahl.”
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