Baseball: Young Trojans look to improve with each game
With only 14 players on his roster, Hillsboro High School baseball coach Phil Oelke may have his most challenging coaching experience of his career this season.
"This will be the most challenging year as a coach for me," Oelke said. "Because of our youth, it's going to be a tough year."
By that, Oelke doesn't mean he feels that his Trojans can't compete. He just knows with only one senior and two juniors, most teams they play will have more upperclassmen.
He also has only five players on the bench each game, meaning lineup shifts and players learning multiple positions will be common.
"Our batting order will fluctuate from game to game for the first six or eight games," Oelke said. "And we are going to have a lot of utility guys who could play three or four different positions."
Oelke doesn't like the fact guys will be moving around a lot, but he does think 14 is a "doable" number.
"Good teams can adapt," he said of moving around, "and our baseball IQ has gotten better."
In other words he has seen an improvement in his young team since day one, and feels that is what the team success should be measured on during the season as well.
"We better look a whole lot better by game 10 than game one," Oelke said. "I don't like to lose no matter what the scenario is, but if we get beat by a team and we gave everything we had, that's a pill a little easier to swallow."
Although the team is young, it will be anchored on the mound by junior Isaac Leihy.
Sophomore Jacob Edwards also will see the mound frequently, as will sophomore Jacob Fish and freshman Dillon Delk.
Oelke said all four will be on pitch counts early on, especially Delk because of his age.
Four players, Leihy, Edwards, Devin Funk, and Mitchell Koop will rotate in the outfield, depending on who is pitching.
Junior Daniel Jost will occupy the shortstop position, and as of now Chris Couts has the second base position.
Fish will be at first, Delk at third when not pitching, and Aaron Bina will be behind the plate.
Even though the Trojans will be playing against more experienced teams nearly every game, Oelke still expects his team to give 100 percent every time out on the field.
In the Mid-Central Activities Association, anything less will usually means a loss.
"The competition level should be high. That's good tough," he said. "We are already seeing some of our kids making tremendous strides."