The SoBoCo Eagles baseball team will field a veteran team with plenty of defense this season. The question will be: Can the Eagles get enough hitting to support that defense and quality pitching by Daniel Smith, Spencer Taggart, Clay Jeffrey and others?
New head coach Andy Jahnsen and assistants Shannon Jeffrey, Jim Dapkus and Nathan Volkart say they will know that answer in May not March. “There are a lot of kids working hard to fight for positions,” said Jahnsen.
“The kids have a great attitude and we started slowly – but are getting ready to play.” The Eagles scrimmaged on Friday and showed some leather out in the field. The infield returns Smith and Salmos as well as Colin Vaughan and Ryan Sapp at first base.
“Kolton Schupp has found a home at third base and we have Daniel, Sam Stichnote and Sam (Salmons) at shortstop and second base,” Jahnsen said. The Eagles have plenty of players in one spot – behind the plate. Returning catchers Connor Imhoff and Garrett Goodnight are joined by Charlie Smith and Payton Keeley.
“Charlie and Garrett are a great 1-2 combo who will share time there,” Jahnsen said. The outfield will be anchored by Jeffrey – who Jahnsen says has great instincts and uses his speed to cover plenty of ground – and the other outfield spots will be covered by Dalton Mann, Colby Phillips, Seth Taggart and Brian Kent. On the mound for the Eagles will be an ensemble starting with seniors Smith, Taggart and Jeffrey.
“We have a slew of them,” Jahnsen said of his pitching staff. Salmons, Sapp, Mueller and a few others will get their opportunities on the mound, especially in light of new pitching rules that will limit pitch counts.
The Eagles will play a beefy schedule, facing always tough Fatima to start the season and then leaving for a tournament in Georgia during Spring Break. “We will play four games near Atlanta against some very good competition,” Jahnsen said. “But tough competition is OK, we will get some at-bats and see some top pitching. It will be a good experience.”
When they return, SoBoCo will have a tough Tri-County schedule and then face a district tournament loaded with Blair Oaks, Helias, Sullivan and Salem. “We will be really tough defensively,” Jahnsen said, but our success will be determined by our hitting. It will all come down to generating runs.”