Van-Far head baseball coach Wes Rowden is excited to have 22 players out for an Indians baseball team that finished 3-12 overall last season.
The influx of key returning players and young talent provides the squad a solid nucleus.
Though they lost Austin Speagle (1B), Nathan Kraft (OF), and Lucas Robinson (P, SS) to graduation, Van-Far has several returning players with varsity experience.
Those include seniors Wyatt McDowell (SS/2B, 1B, DH, P), Mike Colson (P, 3B/1B), Layten McMillen (3B/1B), Klayton Haddock (OF/IF), Austin Brewster (OF), and Brendan Flowers. Flowers tore his ACL last season but was having a decent year before the injury.
Other players include Cameron Barsé (C), Brayden McMillen (Utility/P), Josh Hodde (P, CF), Jason Lansche, Paul Schambach, and Cody James.
On the mound, Rowden expects Colson and Hodde to eat up a lot of innings. McDowell will also be used depending on the health of his arm.
“I think we’re going to be better (on the mound),” Rowden said. “Josh is a year older and he’s stronger, I think Mike Colson throws harder, and if Wyatt’s arm is in good shape, he can give me two to three innings early…”
Offensively, Rowden expects his team to be better at the plate this year as they are a “year older, smarter, and stronger.”
“I look for improvement all the way around, both offensively and defensively,” Rowden added. “I see us as a more improved ball club.”
In the field, Rowden has 22 players to choose from to fill spots on defense.
He said Hodde will lead the outfield as he feels the sophomore is one of the best centerfielders in the conference.
In having 22 players, Rowden has been forced to split inside practices into two practice sessions.
He’s had freshman and sophomores practicing at an earlier time followed by the juniors and seniors.
Currently, the team is focusing on hitting and position play with pitchers getting in some work as well.
Van-Far has been outside just two times since practices began so Rowden is hoping to get more time on the field in the near future.
Rowden added that this will not be his final season. He’s put his retirement on hold for a year while state legislators decide on potential changes to retirement for teachers in the profession for more than 30 years.
Van-Far will open its season on the road March 21 at Calvary Lutheran High School at 4:30 p.m.
Their home opener is scheduled for Thursday, March 31 against rival Wellsville-Middletown at 5 p.m.