Baseball Squad Returns Nice Core of Players
The Rugby Panther baseball team will enter the 2016 season with a fair amount of talent and experience to bring to the diamond and a slight shake-up in the coaching ranks. Five starters from last years team, Evan Burckhard, Blaine Rosencrans, Hunter Hager, Anders Johnson and Landen Foster will look to lead the charge for Rugby. As far as coaching, Kendall Schieve is still guiding the team, but he will be assisted by Greg Foster and they will share head coaching duties.
“I will take 90% of the blame & Kendall will take 90% of the fame,” joked Foster, “in the end, we will end up splitting the responsibilities roughly 50/50.” Foster was the head coach for Rugby Baseball from 1999-2005.
As a team last season, the Panthers went 12-11, batted collectively at .339 and the team’s ERA was 3.63. The aforementioned players bring versatility, all could see time on the mound, as well as their usual positions. Both Foster and Schieve mentioned that guys will get opportunities on the mound, and as the season progress, they will see who emerges as the no. 1`pitcher. Rugby will also look to some of the younger players to fill in holes left by the three senior from last year, Bennie Mygland, Eli Luna & Eric Hooker. “I’m certain guys will step-up to the occasion for us,” mentioned Schieve. Panthers will be without the services of Dillon Marco for most if not all of the season, as he continues to rehab from a knee injury.
Taking a look at some returners numbers, Burckhard batted .427 and his 22 RBIs led the team. He also was the team leader on the mound in innings pitched (34), strikeouts (32) and ERA at 2.06. Johnson hit at a clip of .417, was third on the team in RBIs with 15, second in runs scored at 22 and interestingly enough was the team leader in “hit by pitch” with 6. Rosencrans batting average was .371 and he pounded out 6 doubles, a Panther high from last season. A sample size of the returning numbers, but the experience will likely be the largest factor. The returners aren’t just from last season, but they have played at the varsity level for 2 or 3 years.
For the region, both coaches see Harvey as the front runner, but there will be strong competition from the other teams. “We have a very talented region this year,” stated Foster, “it will be a tight pack for seeding come playoff time.” Schieve believes it will be a matter of who is limiting their mistakes come mid-May.
The Panthers will open up play at home on Tuesday April, 12th versus Bishop Ryan. All games can be heard on AM1450.
Hauser is the sports director for KZZJ Radio, 1450 AM.
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