Baseball Preview: Holcomb baseball squad looks to develop youth
The Holcomb Hornets baseball squad enters the 2017 fall season with an abundance of youth.
Holcomb returns just four starters off of last season’s squad that finished 8-6 in the fall and 10-4 in the spring.
“We are working on everything right now from fundamentals to defensive strategies,” Holcomb longtime baseball coach Matt Casper said. “We are building from the ground up right now because when you graduate seven, including five starters, it’s tough to fill those positions. The majority of our guys will play defensive positions they did not play last season. Getting them used to those defensive positions and expecting more out of their bats as we bump them up in the lineup is a work in progress and we are working to get better at everything right now.”
The Holcomb baseball roster consists of seniors Matthew Finley, Logan Acup, Ty Neldon, Luke Hellebusch and Chandler Miller; junior Austin Barnes; sophomore Eli Morgan; and freshmen Sammy Roso, Ben Maynard, Austin Wallace, Jimmie Davis and Eli Bader.
Casper said Finley, Acup, Neldon and Morgan started last season.
“They are all solid players that will see time on the infield,” Casper said. “That’s the core we are building off of from last year. Hopefully, some pitchers will develop. A couple of our returning starters logged some innings last year, but they will have to log quite a few more this season, so hopefully they are up to the task.”
Casper expects Finley and Neldon to anchor the pitching rotation.
“They will have a little bit of experience coming in, but not a bunch,” Casper said. “But those two will have to log innings and some others like Eli Morgan and a couple of the freshmen will have to step up and pitch some innings as well. We don’t have a great deal of experience on the mound so it will be an experimental time for us, especially in the fall.”
Casper said Acup, Finley and Neldon are his biggest threats at the plate.
“The seniors had a good year last year as juniors,” Casper said. “Finley was all-conference and all-district. Logan Acup had a good year at the plate and showed a little bit of power toward the end of the season. Ty Neldon is a good hitter that struggled a little last spring but we are hoping he can turn it around. Those three will hopefully give us solid at-bats and a chance to win.”
Holcomb is slated to compete in Class 2, District 1 with Bernie, Senath-Hornersville, Campbell, South Pemiscot, Bloomfield, Puxico and Hayti in the spring.
“I thought everyone in our district had a chance last year and I think it’s the same way this year,” Casper said. “Many teams will be going through rebuilding years and we are one of those teams.”
The Tri-County Conference Tournament is once again slated to take place in the fall instead of the spring. Holcomb finished second to Cooter in last season’s Tri-County Conference tournament.
“Until somebody beats Cooter in the conference tournament they are going to be the team to beat,” Casper said of the Tri-County Conference. “They return most of their guys. It’s always a tough task, regardless of who you are, to beat them. I also expect Gideon with Risco to be competitive again. We played them three times last year and every game was close. I don’t know a great deal about the rest of the conference but with the way we are rebuilding we are not going to take anyone for granted this season.”