By: Reiley Bartel, Online Editor
The Jets baseball team is ready for takeoff. The team’s opening game is Friday against Southern Nazarene from Bethany, Oklahoma.
Head coach Drew Maus says he is “cautiously excited” for the first game.
“We’ve had a lot of good practices early this month and hope that those make it to the field for competition,” he said.
Baseball fans can attend 11 home games this season. The Jets will play Minot State, Southwestern, Rogers State, Central Christian, Northwestern Oklahoma State, Southern Nazarene, Central Oklahoma, Fort Hays State, Northwest Missouri State, Southeastern Oklahoma State and Emporia State, all at home.
The Jets will have many returning players, Maus said, but some new players to watch this year are Junior Jase Schneider, Junior Shawn Marquis, and Junior Eli Wohl, all hitters who Maus said played well in the fall pre-season. Sophomore Lance Elsen, Sophomore Garrett Calderon and Junior Jarod Newton are also additions to the bullpen who are working their way up, he said. Some returnees to watch this season, Maus said, are sophomores Jack Kiser and Colby Wilson and senior Braden Oberle.
“I think we will be able to score runs again this year, but our bullpen is much deeper this season.They have worked really hard to make that jump,” Maus said.
Pre-season went well for the team, players say.
“We have come back and built on top of the team from last season. We know that teams expect to beat us and so we play with that chip on our shoulder,” said Ian Lecki, senior pitcher.
This is the first year baseball will be competing as an official member of the MIAA. After spending the past several years as an affiliate member and awaiting approval.
“Our conference is one of the best in the country, so we are excited to compete in the MIAA,” Maus said. “We have to play with a chip on our shoulder because of our circumstances. When you are at the bottom of the conference rankings in facilities, budget and cost for school, there’s a lot to overcome, and I hope our guys stay hangry.”
Maus isn’t the only one who’s ready for the upcoming season.
“I am really excited to see how our pitching staff performs this year. We improved with depth and potential,” said sophomore pitcher Colby Wilson. “We expect to see more scoreless innings this year from top to bottom.”
In the pre-season poll, the Newman Jets were placed tenth out of twelve teams.
“The expectation this year is a lot higher than last year,” Lecki said. “The MIAA does not expect us to compete while we expect to make the conference tournament. We look to play well into May but that will only happen if we have the right mindset and refuse to give up until the last out is recorded. Our starters have returned, but our bullpen has grown tremendously. I feel that Coach Maus is very comfortable with the idea that he can go to a variety of arms in different situations.”
It took a lot of hard work and determination to get where they are today, Maus said.“Teaching these guys to get better and learn how to win was step one. It took a couple years. Now we are on to the next step of expecting to win, which is the most difficult step. It’s hard to create that expectation when some things are stacked against you, but as in life, it doesn’t matter and we just have to continue to make plays.” he said.
The baseball schedule can be found at newmanjets.com under baseball.
PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics