The Community R-VI baseball team is reloading talent this year after losing five seniors to graduation, which included three pitchers, from a 12-4 squad that lost in the district finals a year ago.
Head coach Brandon Talbot said one key returner will be second-team, all-conference infielder Collin Dungan.
Dungan (3B) hit around .470 last year and was over. 500 in the EMO Conference. He may see some time on the mound this year.
Talbot said he hopes Dungan’s teammates pick up some of his approach when in the batter’s box.
“The big thing this year we are concentrating on with the new juniors and seniors is our approaches at the plate,” Talbot added. “Taking better swings early in the counts, protecting the ball, and putting the ball in play in late counts. Collin did a good job with that last year. I’d like that to be contagious to the rest of the team and follow that approach…It’s not so much an average thing or home runs but putting balls in play and making the other team play defense on you.”
Other key returners include all-district second baseman Gatlin Curtis (2B/P), Jamie Householder (C), Cordell Hollensteiner (OF, Utility), and Matt Gastler (P).
The Trojans are a young team though as they only have 15 players with a lot of them being freshman.
“We still have some positions open and I told the same thing to the team and the parents,” Talbot said. “We lost some big holes and have some big holes to fill…There’s going to be three to four kids playing different positions but as a player, it’s exciting to go to the ballpark not knowing what number is going to be next to their name.”
Gastler will take on a bulk of the pitching responsibilities for the Trojans this year.
Behind him and other pitchers will be a defense that was able to keep errors low last year.
“We need to keep the score low enough so we can stay right there and give ourselves a chance to win,” Talbot said. “I want my pitchers to work quick and control the tempo of the game, especially when it’s cold.”
Talbot said he had several Trojans play for him last Summer and he’s hoping that experience will pay off.
“A lot of pitching we saw this Summer is a lot better than we normally see in the high school season,” Talbot noted. “It’s a really high level of competition…I think it will help them.”
Talbot said many of those games were played with wooden bats, which made the players hit the weight room helping them get stronger.
The Trojans open their season on Monday, March 14 with a Jamboree. Their first official game is Friday, March 18 at Madison at 5 p.m.
The Trojans JV plays a home opener on Wednesday, March 23 against Mexico at 5 p.m.
Community R-VI’s varsity home opener is Thursday, March 24 against Marion County at 5 p.m.