One of the high school Spring sports that has the same coach from last season, WHS Baseball, isn't absent of changes for 2013.
"You're going to see a lot of new faces," said third-year Head Coach, Jesse Dale. "We return three guys that received some sort of league honors last season, Alex Weiss, Noah Wolff, and Blane Anderson." Those players, all seniors along with Loren Farley are the only returners with significant experience after the team lost a big batch of seniors from a year ago. The team also lost Nick Becker, senior, who was a Second Team All-State third baseman his junior year. He'll be swinging a golf club instead of a bat this Spring.
Aside from the new faces, the team has hassled with weather conflicts in the early days of practice.
"The Monday we were supposed to start, we started getting all those snow days," Dale said. "...So we're a little behind in that respect, we're just trying to get everything covered before we open up." The Crusaders start their season in Rose Hill on March 25.
"It's a little bit of a tough date, since it's the Monday after we get back from Spring Break," the coach noted, saying there will be practices in the latter part of this week. "It makes those Spring Break practices that much more important because you don't have any time to get back into the routine of coming to school and going to practice right after and all that." In the time that the baseball team has gotten to practice, they have conducted a couple of scrimmages to help the coaches fill the depth chart.
"We've got 38 kids out...that's really a pretty good number for us," Dale said. Last season, the Crusaders batted .269 as a team, lead by Weiss who averaged .408; accounting for 26 runs, 31 hits, 13 RBI's and one homerun.
Anderson will be the player to watch on the mound, he amassed a 3-2 record as the team went 12-9 in 2012. His ERA was 2.20, which was a team best, Anderson also threw 33 strikes a season ago, second only to Weiss who pitched 43. Anderson will also spend time at third this year in Becker's absence.
The home-opener for the Crusaders is set for Thursday, March 28, a double-header against Mulvane, starting at 4 p.m., which is the first in a three-game home-stand. But first, it's a double at Rose Hill at 4 p.m. this coming Monday.
"Our game plan really doesn't change a whole lot," Dale said. "We've got to be really, really sound defensively and execute offensively...We're going to run the bases aggressively." A lot of the power-hitters from last season graduated, so the coaching staff is focusing on the fundamentals to get the team ready for the season.
"We're going to have to do all the little things," Dale said. "We're going to have to bunt the ball well, and run the bases well, and sure as heck going to have to pitch it well."