Van-Far’s baseball program is entering an era with new head coach Dan Friedel but will receive help from the once retired Wes Rowden, who is returning as an assistant this season.
Friedel brings a lot of unique coaching experience in sports to Van-Far. Many may not realize that he was recently an assistant basketball coach for Drury University under Steve Hesser.
During his time at Drury, Friedel was a part of Drury basketball teams that went 68-21 over three seasons.
His background also includes being a graduate of Duchesne High School in St. Charles, Mo. and a 2013 graduate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Friedel is taking over an Indians baseball squad that is coming off a year in which they won a district championship in 2017.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to coach here at Van-Far,” Friedel said. “It’s a great community with outstanding support. What I’m most excited about though is that I get to step in and coach a group of kids that know what it takes to win. They’ve won a district in baseball, and state championships in track and basketball. There is something to be said about having winning culture at a school. I’m happy and proud they have allowed me to become a small part of it.”
In looking at this year’s squad, Friedel said he’s excited about his team’s pitching depth.
He listed off 11 different players who could see time on the mound this season.
They include seniors Josh Hodde (P/OF) and Nathan Beatty (P/3B); juniors Logan Wilson (P/SS), Treyson Culwell (3B/P), Seth Morris, Riley Culwell (2B/P), and Jayson Orr; sophomores Matt Dunn and Aidan Lowrance; and freshman Skylar Deimeke.
Other key players expected to see time in the varsity lineup this year includes Colten Jensen (OF), Sam Middleton (IF/OF/P), Colin Wilburn (Util.), Caden Wilburn (C), Paul Schambach (Util.), and Cody James (OF).
“One thing we are excited about is our depth,” Friedel said. “We bring back all of our pitching from last year and have a bunch of guys that can give us innings. Our focus right now is getting their arms in shape and getting stronger as the season goes along. Coach Rowden is doing an outstanding job of making sure our pitchers and catchers are ready to compete each and everyday.”
Offensively, the Indians are returning Treyson Culwell, Wilson, and Hodde to their lineup and each are expected to make an impact again this season.
“One thing that I am really focusing on and pushing to our players is running the bases,” Friedel noted. “We have some guys that can run and we are going to use that to our advantage.”
Defensively, Caden Wilburn is transitioning into the catcher position. They are also expected to be strong up the middle with Wilson at shortstop and Hodde in centerfield. Treyson Culwell and Beatty can play either corner infield spot and there area also a handful of players who can step in and play second base or a corner outfield spot.