Whiteoak High School baseball coach Chris Veidt said the team is young this year, but they’re eager to learn – and their youth doesn’t affect their goals.
“Our goal is pretty much the same every year,” he said. “We want to win 20 games, the SHAC Championship and the district championship as well… We’ve got a fairly young group, but it’s a good young group, and obviously through he course of the season, it’s going to be a joy to watch them grow and mature as young men and as baseball players. We’re playing a lot of sophomores and juniors, and even some freshmen.”
Veidt said his focus this year is mainly on those younger players, with one senior, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen on the starting roster.
Junior Trever Yeager is at the top of the list, Veidt said. Yeager, an all-league and all-district player and all-ohio nominee last season, is multi-talented, and will focus on center field, short stop, second and third base, as well as pitching.
Sophomore Traeten Hamilton will return to the mound as one of the top three pitchers on the team, Veidt said, and will cover second base.
“He’s a kid who’s going to catch peoples’ eye and vie for some post-season honors, if he works and performs,” he said.
Junior Caleb West is a newcomer for Whiteoak this season after being an all-league performer at Peebles High School last year. Veidt said West’s family has Whiteoak roots.
“He’s an infielder, so he’ll go back and forth between third and short stop, depending on the rotation,” he said.
By the end of last season, Evan Brill, now a sophomore, was performing as the team’s top pitcher, and Veidt said he hopes for more of the same this season.
“He won a big league game for us and a sectional game after he started most of the year in left field,” he said. “We’re expecting big things out of him as well.”
Three-year starting senior Brandon Lowe will return to first base this season, while junior Casey Nance will play third base and outfield.
“We’ve also got some sophomores who are starting for the first time, but none of them played last year,” Veidt said, “although they’re all looking good at this point.”
Veidt said the team’s greatest strength is pitching depth.
“We have 11 kids we can comfortably spread out there,” he said. “We can throw strikes and compete pretty well.”
In terms of improvements, Veidt said the team needs to be more aggressive with base runs.
“We’ve been working real hard on being more aggressive on the bases,” he said. “We’re trying to emphasize base running a little more this year. I think most high school teams – at least we do – relentlessly work on the throw-and-catch game because in the end, defense is what’s going to win or lose the ballgame for you… But more than usual, we’re trying to work on being aggressive with bases.”
Veidt said the team could also use some improvement in their bunt game.
In the end, Veidt said he’s eager to watch the season play out.
“I’m just really looking forward to this season with a good group of young kids who are working hard, and I’m looking forward to competing and seeing where we end up,” he said.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.