By William / www.mcpherson-county-ks.com
INMAN – It may be a challenge in 2022 for the Inman baseball team to match last season’s 20-3 record, a Heart of America League Championship and being runner-up at state regionals, as they need to replace six starters.
Teuton head coach Matt Mikulecky begins his fifth season at the helm of the program needing to replace five graduated starters in first baseman/pitcher Carter Brown, outfielder/pitcher Derrick Johnson, catcher Jayden Leonhardt, and infielder/pitcher Landen Snyder along with Kyler Konrade, a shortstop/pitcher who will sit out the 2022 season due to injuries.
“Last season was a record-breaking season for Inman baseball,” pointed out Coach Mikulecky. “It ended with a heartbreaking loss to undefeated Ellis in the Regional finals. The team set several school and individual records with eight players receiving some level of All-Heart of America League honors and five gaining All-State recognition. The highlight of 2021 was seeing a group of seniors finish their careers with a season that we will remember forever. We have nothing to hang our heads over from last season, we simply ran into a truly elite pitcher for Ellis that ended our run.”
What Mikulecky does have is three key returning starters to build the team around with juniors Zaden Johnson, Sammy Shober, and Brant Mikulecky. Johnson will play first base after having a .481 on-base-percentage in 2021, Shober returns to man shortstop and pitch after hitting .298 and scoring 21 runs last season, and Mikulecky will take up one of the outfield spots while pitching as well after hitting .321 with 20 runs scored and 18 stolen bases in 2021. Mikulecky also earned second-team all-league honors while Shober was named all-league honorable mention.
In addition to those three, coach Mikulecky also mentioned freshman Caleb Bigler and Hunter Plooster as players that could make an impact this spring.
Mikulecky said, “We return just three starters from last season, so we are looking for several returning players to step up and contribute. Freshman Caleb Bigler is a versatile player and nice pitcher that will give us some options on defense while working some varsity innings on the mound as a freshman. Fellow freshman Hunter Plooster is a speedy athlete that we will work in the outfield and at catcher, though we would like to get him on the basepaths as much as possible.”
Concluding his reflections on the upcoming season, Mikulecky added, “We lost a great deal of talent, experience, and leadership, so I am looking at the first half of the season as on-the-job training for a bunch of new guys. Positivity and energy will be a strength with this group. We are going to need to develop some arms and be efficient because we will not have a lot of depth in the pitching staff. For us to win ballgames, we must do the little things correctly and make the routine plays. I think we can find nine guys to do that and be a competitive team down the stretch.”
The Teutons will begin their 2022 season on Friday, March 25 by hosting Pratt Skyline before going on the road on Tuesday, March 29 to battle with Little River.
(William is a free-lance writer covering McPherson County Activities – he can be reached at email@example.com)