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Van-Far’s baseball team takes on the new season

Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 7:20 pm

By Brandie Gay

Van-Far baseball is undergoing a fresh start this season. The team, known as the Indians, has seen significant changes compared to previous years. Let’s dive into the details:

New Head Coach: The program now has a new head coach, Cameron Huff. Cameron graduated from college and was an all-conference and all-district catcher for Wellsville-Middletown. His experience includes finishing second in the state in 2017 and winning a district title in 2019. Cameron is determined to lead Van-Far baseball to success. He recognizes that the last time Van-Far won a district title was in 2018, and the program has only secured six wins in the four seasons since then.

Increased Roster: The team’s roster has expanded significantly. With an increase of 22 players compared to about nine players last year, there’s hope for positive changes. Cameron actively recruited boys from other sports, encouraging them to give baseball a shot. Football players, in particular, have joined the team.

Transfers and New Faces: Among the new additions are twin brothers Malik and Tyson Douglas, who transferred from Fulton. These brothers were part of the football all-conference team for Fulton and previously played football and baseball for Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac Catholic in California. Having more players means Van-Far will field a junior varsity squad this year. The increased competition will push players to vie for limited varsity spots.

Building for the Future: Cameron’s vision is clear: he aims to build a program that can earn or compete for a district title within the next two years. Despite having several players with little to no baseball experience, Cameron sees this as an advantage. Inexperienced players don’t have bad habits yet, allowing him to teach them proper techniques.

Returning Players: Some key returning players include: Gage Gibson: A leader in the middle infield. Reece Culwell: An all-conference player and the only returning all-conference Indian. Gibson Condie, Tarion Aguirre, and Bransen Salmon. With the increased roster and fresh energy, Van-Far baseball is ready for a new chapter.

The start of the season has already proven that the Indians are ready for the challenge. Van-Far is 2-1 for the first week. The first game of the season was at Calvary Lutheran, Monday, March 18. The game was tied at 4 in the bottom of the seventh when Calvary Lutheran singled; scoring one run and Calvary would win in a walk-off. For Van-Far, Reece Culwell would strike out 13 batters on the day. Culwell gave up two hits and three runs over five and two-thirds innings while walking three. Van-Far was the first to score with Tyson Douglas grounding out but scoring two runs extending the Indians lead. Carson Huff, Gibson Condie, Garrett Hopke and Gage Gibson each collected one hit for the Indians. Huff and Douglas each drove in one run. Culwell and Malik Douglas each stole multiple bases, running wild on the base paths. The Indians collected seven stolen bases for the game. New Coach Cameron Huff commented on the first game Calvary Lutheran, it was tough; we played solid for 5 straight innings and we fell apart defensively and let the pressure get to us. Adding, I don’t think the blame can be placed on one specific play, we just have to execute better defensively.

The Indians Home Opener, Tuesday, March 19 was against MMA. The Indians scored 16 runs in the first running by MMA, securing the win 20 to 0. Gibson Condie earned the win for the Indians. Condie gave up zero hits and zero runs over the three innings, striking out six and only walking one. Van-Far rattled the bats collecting 13 hits in the game. Huff seized on the opportunities, leading the Indians with three runs batted in. Hopke, Douglas, Douglas, Culwell and Huff each collected two hits for the day. Condie walked twice. Overall the team had patience at the plate collecting six walks. Condie, Hopke, Gaston, Douglas, Douglas, Culwell, Huff and Gage Gibson each stole multiple bases, collecting 24 stolen bases.  The Indians didn’t commit one error. Coach Huff commented, I’m proud of the boys and how they came out to play. Adding, it’s tough to stay mentally focused in those situations, but our boys stayed locked in and ready to play.

Friday, March 22, the game was at home against Tuscumbia. Van-Far built a six run lead in the first inning and held off Tuscumbia’s charge closing the gap by scoring on a walk, a single. Hit by pitch, sacrifice fly, a walk, and another single. The Indians jumped out to the lead in the bottom of the first inning after Culwell singled, scoring two runs then an error scored two runs, Ronnie Stanich grounded out scoring a run and Douglas singled scoring a run. Tyson Douglas earned the win for the Indians. Douglas allowed one hit and four runs over one and one-third innings, striking out one and walking five. Gibson Condie went in for relief and pitched the remainder of the game. Condie surrendered six hits and walked four. Stanich and Condie each drove in two runs for the Indians. Gage Gibson led the Indians with two walks. Overall the Indians collected eight walks for the game. Gibson, Douglas and Hopke each stole multiple bases with none stolen for the Indians. Van-Far turned one double play.

“So far we are playing good baseball,” Huff explained, adding, “I’m seeing good things, and things we need to work on and we are going to work hard at practice fixing those issues and stress the importance to keep doing the good things right.”

Huff noted that the plans for the upcoming weeks is to still play Van-Far India style of baseball and have better execution moving forward.

“Our pitchers look great,” he said. “Realistically, we should be 3-0, but that’s not the case so we need to keep grinding.”

His final thoughts on the first week of the season with only the one loss, Huff commented, “The loss to Calvary, I wouldn’t change anything. I pulled Reece for pitch count purposes and Condie did his job. We just have to be better on the defensive end.”

Next week the Indians will play Monday at Hermann, Tuesday at North Callaway and Friday at home against Wellsville Middletown.