Bouts of bad weather and struggling grades have put the Indians squad in limbo with the 2013 season fast approaching.
With the first game slated for March 21, recent snows have limited Van-Far’s field time and pushed the team into Saturday sessions in hopes that players will get the required 14 practices before kicking off the season against Calvary Lutheran at home.
“The weather has really hit us pretty hard,” Rowden said. “We are going to have to practice a couple of Saturdays before we get enough for the first game. If anybody misses any of the practices, they won’t be able to play.”
He said some players may also be lost to poor academic performance.
“You have to pass everything,” Rowden said. “You are here for academics first. You have to pass to play. Our number one priority is education.”
Despite those worries, Rowden said he is hoping for solid hitting this season with a crew of returning starters.
“We have got more experience this year,” he said. “I think offensively we will be better. We struggled offensively last year a lot. I’m really hoping we are going to be a better hitting team.”
The Indians will be led by seniors Ethan Gooch (SS/P) and Ryan Nelson (3B/P), who have three solid seasons as starters under their belt, as well as senior Brian Kurz (1B).
“There is a lot of leadership there,” Rowden said. “They’re quality young men.”
Gooch and Nelson will split mound time with sophomore Lucas Robinson (SS/P) expected to fill in when needed. But Rowden said the pitching trio is iffy as of yet and not expected to ease the Indians into the win column.
“It’s really a question mark,” he said, adding stamina is the culprit. “We just have to see if they got any better and can throw more than two innings for us.”
Other returning starters for Van-Far are Kyle Decker, Trey Hull, and the Indians’ leading batter, Logan Boyd.
The team added three freshmen this season: Wyatt McDowell (OF), Klayton Haddock (1B), and Michael Colson (1B).
Along with hopes for greater hitting, Rowden said he aims to cut Van-Far’s average of nine strikeouts per game in half, as well as push getting more bases on the ball. He said some defensive soft spots also need attention.
Namely on defense, Rowden said last season the team averaged 4.5 errors per game, which he would also like to trim in half. Other defensive keys noted were solid catching and throwing improvements.
The Indians finished 3-12 during the 2012 season.