By RON PRESTON
New head baseball Coach Travis Bartley will rely on eight returning Abilene Cowboy lettermen to help in improving on a 5-16 season from a year ago
Returning lettermen for the Cowboys will be seniors Nolan Berry and Matt McClanahan, juniors Chad Beetch, Chris Cease and Grant Prichard with sophomores Tanner Hoekman, Colton Mills and Chase Stalder all expected to contribute again this year.
Other key returners to the Cowboy line up will be junior Weston Riffel and sophomores Hunter Combs, Wyatt Youtsey and Carson Sherbert according to coach Bartley.
“Our offense will be one of our strengths this season. We have some returners from last year with varsity experience that will be able to help us out right away,” said coach Bartley.
Pitching is the area of uncertainty for the Cowboys due to graduation.
Abilene is without the services of Dalton Millican, Alex Friederich and Bryce Meuli as they were seniors in 2012.
“We have enough arms this season, just not much with experience,” said Bartley.
“We are not going to throw it by or fool anyone. We will be looking for our pitchers to throw strikes often and let our defense play behind them,” he said.
“All the pitchers have to do is keep us in the ball games and I expect us to be very successful this season,” coach Bartley commented.
Concordia dominated the North Central Kansas League last year with a 10-0 league record. Abilene finished fifth with a league record of 2-8.
“The NCKL should be very competitive this year as always. Concordia is always tough, but everyone has lost their fare share of starters,” commented coach Bartley.
Concordia will return two of the top pitchers in the league based on last years’ stats. Seniors Nathan Geiber and Trevor Nordell will return to the mound for the Panthers.
“Should be a very exciting year in the league and I like our chances to be very competitive this season,” concluded coach Bartley.
Offensively the Cowboys return four of the top league hitters in Nolan Berry who had a .413 batting average, Chase Stalder with a .333 average, Matt McClanahan had a .302 average and Grant Pritchard finished with a .267 average.
The Cowboy roster includes seniors Nolan Berry, Dakota Cody, Matt McClanahan and Trenton Roth.
Five juniors will suit up for the Cowboys: Chad Beetch, Chris Cease, Grant Prichard and Weston Riffel.
Sophomores Hunter Combes, Tanner Hoekman, Tim Mateer, Logan Meuli, Colton Mills, David Schmidt, Carson Sherbert, Wyatt Youtsey and Chase Stalder will be counted on this year to contribute early.
Freshmen Tate Berry, Garret Davis, Dakota Faulkner, Bailey Fitzgerald, Byron Flippo, Jovany Garcia, Gehrig Geissinger, Buck Hayes, Alex Madacs, Jordan McCord, Bobby Miller, Jason Tarn, Kevin Wilson and Isaac Wright will add depth to the roster.