Wildcats Will Rely On Pitching
With a roster of just 11 this year, Paden City Head Coach Brent Croasmun is looking for bodies to fill positions.
“We lost six seniors from last years team,” the 22-year veteran said of Wes Cosper, Ryan Thoburn, Ricky Wright, Chaz Heasley, Chris Loy and Keith Kline. “Five of them were full time starters and they were all good baseball players with a lot of experience.”
“Our younger players are really going to have to step up this year if we are going to have any success.”
But the ‘Cats have experience coming back in the form of returning lettermen Malakai Anderson (pitcher, shortstop, catcher), Josh Bennett (pitcher, shortstop, 2nd base), Mitchell Stewart (catcher, outfield), Zach Yost (center field, second base) and Jamie Billiter (3rd base, 1st base).
Anderson and Bennett both return as veteran pitchers for the ‘Cats. “Both throw the ball hard and can change speeds with good curve balls,” Croasmun said.
“Bennett was 6-1 while Anderson was 3-1 last year. Josh played in the outfield when he wasn’t pitching and Malakai was outstanding at the catcher position.”
“Malakai is capable of playing any position on the field. He is also one of the best base runners I have ever had on the team. He had 31 stolen bases last year and was thrown out only twice. His batting average was .379.”
Playing a little “switch-and-hit,” Croasmun will find a way to work every player on the team into a position that will fit them, eventually. Other than the returners, the ‘Cats will put their dependence on Ben Anderson (DH, outfield), Jay Billiter (1st base, 3rd base), Jared Stewart (left field, 1st base), Taylor Still (right field), Drew Bidwell (2nd base, center field), Matt Barker (left field, 3rd base), and Jeff Palmer (outfield).
Still in the process of trying to figure out who goes where, Croasmun and Assistant Coach Jeff Hohn will have their work cut out for them. “Anderson and Bennett will share duties at shortstop when the other is pitching,” Croasmun said. “Starting at catcher will be Stewart, and Anderson will catch when Stewart pitches.”
“Our ability to score runs will not be what it was last year. We will have to play good defense and our pitchers are going to have to throw a lot of strikes. That’s really the key to any baseball team. We must develop some new pitchers to support Anderson and Bennett.”
Croasmun figures his team will struggle a bit until the new members of the team get some games in their pockets. “We’ll try to improve each game,” he said, and added that the goal of the season is to win their sectional.
“We have two solid pitchers in Malakai Anderson and Josh Bennett to build our team around. These kids will work hard and we’ll see what happens,” he concluded.
The Wildcats began their season March 22 with a 4-2 home-standing victory against Valley.