In this era of youth baseball, where there are so many select teams in just about every age group, high school freshman teams can actually have quite a few players with extensive experience. For the Hillsboro freshman baseball team, according to coach Joe Fehlker, this seems to be the case in 2019.
“With the freshman team, we typically don’t know who will contribute in what ways as this is their first experience with school baseball,” he says. “However, based on our practices so far, we have several players who have quite a bit of experience and will be playing key roles for us this year.”
Fehlker points out that behind the plate will be Cruz Valencia, Tyler Watson, and Kaleb Spiller. First base will feature Gavin Mahan when he is not pitching. Second basemen include Andrew Chaves and Colton Knight. Junior Arnold will be playing shortstop on most days, when he isn’t pitching. Andrew Brody and Cole Johnston have been working hard and competing for time at third base. Fehlker will look to Zach Heine, Ben Schamberg, Chase Frank, Nathaniel Sloss and Tate Volmert to patrol the outfield. “Many of our players also pitch and/or play multiple positions, which is something that is important at the freshmen level,” he adds.
Fehlker says this group knows the game. “In our short amount of practice time, I can tell that we have a group of players with good background knowledge of the game. We have several pitchers who each bring something different to the table, including lefties and righties, some with good velocity, and others who focus on location, and many of them can throw multiple pitches. I think a work in progress for us will be cutting down on mistakes. We will focus on making routine plays in the field, throwing strikes, and putting the ball in play.”
Coach Fehlker also says that the objective of baseball on the freshman level is pretty simple. “Our goal for the freshman team is always to teach them to compete, teach them how to be good teammates, and show them the standards of the program. We hope to be competitive in each game, but also allow players to develop their talents and skills.”
And that will be done by throwing them into the heat of the action right away. As Fehlker points out, the freshman schedule will be a test. “The freshman schedule is generally a difficult one,” he points out. “We do not play many of the local teams as they do not typically have freshman teams. As a result, we usually travel north or south, and that is the case again this year with games against DeSmet and Chaminade, as well as Cape Central, Jackson, and Sikeston. I enjoy being able to play a wide variety of teams, as it is a good experience for the players to see what else is out there.”
And that process begins on Friday as the freshmen will take part in the Windsor Freshman Tournament. The team will play two games, the first being a 12 noon contest at home against Seckman. The rest of the tournament schedule can be found here: 6th Annual Windsor Freshman Baseball Tournament. For the complete season schedule, follow this link: 2019 Hillsboro Baseball Schedule