WINNING WITH YOUTH

By William

MCPHERSON – The McPherson high school baseball program has not been on the diamond since May of 2019 due to the pandemic that shutdown the entire 2020 season.

With that being said, while the Bullpups will lose a small group of graduates who contributed much in their careers, head coach Heath Gerstner will have a large youth movement (two dozen underclassmen) to build momentum toward bringing the Bullpup program back to the standard when they made the state regionals or beyond three our of four straight seasons.

Here is a look at the 2021 Bullpup baseball program as it prepares to open the new season on Thursday, March 25 with a home doubleheader against Andale.

A BIT ABOUT THE BULLPUP SEASONS & COACH:

This will be Heath Gerstner’s seventh (7th) season as the head coach for the Bullpup baseball program.

Since they did not play last spring due to the pandemic, in 2019 the team had what Coach Gerstner noted as being a year with struggles like they had not had for a while when they finished just 7-14.

Previously the Bullpups were:

  • Spring of 2018 they finished 15-7 and lost in the state regional finals.
  • Spring of 2017 they finished 12-7 and lost in the state regionals.
  • Spring of 1016 they finished 16-6 and lost by one run in the state regional finals.
  • Spring of 2015 they finished 1708 and too second (2nd) place in the state tournament – the highest finish in Bullpup history.

BULLPUP KEY LOSSES TO GRADUATION/TRANSFERS:

The Bullpups will need to replace four key members of the program:

  • Spencer Whitfield = was a starting catcher and now plays for Kansas Newman University.
  • Jakob Feil = was an infielder who now is playing football for Tabor College.
  • Kourtney Craig
  • Brett Eilts

BULLPUP KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:

While the Bullpups did not play in 2020, they have several players who saw game time in 2019, including the lone senior on the 2021 roster, these players include:

  • Dylan Rinker = the lone senior on our roster, he led the team in innings pitched in 2019 and will play first base when not pitching.
  • Aiden Hoover = started every game as a freshman in 2019 and will be a leader on the team. According to Gerstner, “Hoover has matured at the plate and can play shortstop or third-base while also pitching.
  • Tytin Goebel = played as a freshman and earned some post-season recognition for his play.
  • Jaron Brown = played as a freshman.
  • Collin Pearson = played as a freshman.

BULLPUP NEWCOMERS WORTH WATCHING:

Coach Gerstner noted that he has several players he is looking at to contribute much and make an impact with the team this spring, including these six sophomores:

  • Hunter Alvord
  • Jaytin Gumm
  • Mason Miller
  • Dawson Feil
  • Jaret Myers
  • Tucker Pelnar

BULLPUP SEASON OUTLOOK:

Coach Gerstner pointed out that the strengths of the team this season should be:

  • “It may be the most talented team from top to bottom that I have had.”
  • “They will have the chance to put up some runs while also playing some really solid defense.”

Looking at the challenges for 2021, Coach Gerstner added:

  • “We could likely be one of, if not the youngest team in the state this season as we have but one (1) senior and five (5) juniors to go with 24 sophomores and freshmen.”
  • “With youth, you need to develop pitching and play the game the right way so we will need to become more mentally tough as the season progresses.”

Who does Coach Gerstner see as the toughest opponents on the schedule:

  • “Would have to be Buhler first and foremost as they will be ranked number-one in the state when the preseason rankings come out.”
  • “We also think that Augusta should be a tough out as they have a large group of seniors on their team while Andale will always be a tough game and we open with them on March 25.”

How does Coach Gerstner sum up his expectations of the 2021 season?

  • “Our expectations are to create a culture of getting 1% better each and every day as baseball players, coaches, and as men. If we can do that, anything can happen.”

BULLPUP REFLECTION REVIEW:

While the Bullpups did seem to stumble a lot in the 2019 season, that is two years past and this team is entirely different from that one considering how much youth is on the roster.

But with Coach Gerstner’s ability to get the most our of his players and the fact that several of the team members come from a family line of baseball talent (example: Hoover, Alvord, and Feil) – the 2021 season could turn out to be one of a huge upsides toward success.

First 4 Scheduled Games:

Thursday, March 25 = Host Andale, doubleheader

Tuesday, March 30 = Play in Junction City, 2 games – Great Bend & Junction City

Thursday, April 1 = At Augusta, doubleheader

Thursday, April 8 = At Buhler, doubleheader

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