7 STARTERS RETURN
INMAN – In 2022 the Inman baseball team broke in seven new starters, all of whom are now retuning as experienced starters to give the 2023 team a shot to make a big jump in both the season and post-season matchups.
Fifth-year Teuton head coach Matt Mikulecky was forced to begin last season with seven starters with no varsity experience and it showed early though they did finish with a flourish, going 9-13 overall while placing fourth in the Heart of America standings with a 7-5 mark before closing out the season with a huge late game upset in the first round of the state regionals and then losing their energy in the second round.
“Last season got off to a slow start with so many new, inexperienced starters,” explained coach Mikulecky. “We did find our footing after the mid-point of the season and played some pretty good baseball within a strong Heart of America league schedule. We did struggle to finish games after having seventh inning leads, but the team saw improvement throughout the season and that was very encouraging.”
Having gone 52-55 in his first four seasons, Mikulecky will be assisted by Jason Black for his fifth season at the helm of the Teuton baseball program.
While the coaches will need to find one replacement for a player who has chosen to pursue other interests this spring despite finished 2022 as an all-league honorable mention honoree, they do return a solid group of seasoned kids along with several new members who should rise up to the occasion of playing varsity ball.
(Sammy Shober – Brant Mikulecky)
Leading the list of returnees will be Teuton seniors Sammy Shober and Brant Mikulecky, a pair of All-League First-Team honorees as well as members of the Class 2-1A KABC (Kansas Association of Baseball Coaches) Second-Team All-State teams.
Shober is the Teutons returning shortstop who hit .465 last season while knocking in 22 runs with seven extra base hits.
Mikulecky, scored a team high 31 runs in 2022 while hitting .443 with 11 extra base hits to go along with 80 strikeouts while working the pitcher’s mound.
Other returnees with starting experience include senior Zaden Johnson, a first baseman who earned First-Team All-League honors after hitting .453’ senior third baseman/designated hitter Rhett Gilkey, junior catcher/pitcher Jesse Ballard, another First-Team All-League honoree, and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Caleb Bigler. Senior pitcher/outfielder Grant Wiens also returns with varsity experience from 2021 before having to sit out the 2022 season due to an injury.
According to coach Mikulecky when speaking about the strengths of the upcoming season, “We return a good amount of varsity experience which will be one of our biggest strengths. I think we are going to have a lineup that will put the ball in play up and down the order which should make opposing pitchers have to work for outs and hopefully get into their bullpens. I also see this team as playing much better defense than we did last season, which is going to allow our pitchers to go further into games.”
The coaching staff also made mention of four newcomers who they expect to rise up and contribute at the varsity level in junior infielder/designated hitter Landon Shealy, junior outfielder/pitcher Talon Welch, junior outfielder Kellen Schrag and sophomore infielder Brody Froese.
Mikulecky concluded his pre-season reflections by adding, “We are not deep with varsity pitching, but we certainly have more options this season as well. The learning curve is extremely steep in baseball and so we are going to have to learn on the job with many of our younger guys and understand how to handle and learn from failure in this game.”
The Teutons will open the 2023 season on Friday, March 24 with a road trip to play Pratt/Skyline before hosing Moundridge on Friday, March 31.
TOP RETURNING TEUTONS:
- Sammy Shober, senior shortstop – batted .465 with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs, 22 runs-batted-in, made All-League 1st Team, made Class 2-1A KABC All-State 2nd Team.
- Brant Mikulecky, senior outfielder/pitcher – batted .443 with 9 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 31 runs scored, a 4.00 ERA, 80 strikeouts; made All-League 1st Team, made Class 2-1A KABC All-State 2nd Team.
- Zaden Johnson – senior first baseman – batted .453 with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 24 runs batted in, made All-League 1st Team.
- Rhett Gilkey – senior third baseman/designated hitter – batted .364 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 7 runs batted in.
- Jesse Ballard – junior catcher/pitcher – batted .420 with 4 doubles, 17 runs batted in, 15 runs scored, made All-League 1st Team.
- Caleb Bigler – sophomore pitcher/outfielder – threw 7.2 innings with 10 strikeouts, 3 walks.
- Grant Wiens – senior pitcher/outfielder – did not play in 2022 due to injury.
- Brody Froese – sophomore infielder
- Kellen Schrag – junior outfielder
- Talon Welch – junior outfielder/pitcher
- Landon Shealy – junior infielder/designated hitter
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