Baseball team prepares to return to play after year off

Following the COVID-19 shutdown last March, the baseball team is preparing to return to play with a smaller varsity team than in past seasons.

Coach Joe Krabill said he is looking forward to coaching for his first full season at the high school, but he acknowledges that it will take effort to succeed.

“We were hired last year to take over this program for Coach Orlins, and we have yet to have a chance to demonstrate our prowess and knowledge,” Krabill said.

He explained that he is determined to develop players instead of rushing into games even when players are eager to begin competing.

“We have always had the mantra as coaches that practice is for coaches and games are for parents,” Krabill said.

Krabill added that despite missing last season, he is hopeful for the team’s success this year. He explained that last year, the team only lost one senior, so he believes the team will be just as good or even better.

“I think we have a team that should be able to compete for the district title, and I believe Joey Shapiro, Timmy Old, and Tommy Bloebaum could be all-district,” Krabill said.

He is looking forward to seeing the three players become dependable leaders throughout the season, he added.

Junior Johnathan Spiess said he is excited to be able to play his first full season on varsity, but he is nervous for the strength of the team.

“I am worried that the other underclassmen like me will not have had enough varsity experience to be able to have a large impact on the team,” Spiess said.

He explained that despite his lack of experience, he is looking forward to the seniors being able to have a final season.

“I felt sorry for last year’s seniors not being able to have a season, so I know that this year, the seniors will be appreciative for their ability to play,” Spiess said.

Senior Tommy Bloebaum said he is looking forward to returning to the field to play for the high school this season after not having a full season since his sophomore year.

“This season will be totally different, and I think we will be uniquely affected by missing last year because we will have few experienced returning players,” Bloebaum said.

He added that after his sophomore season, the team lost 10 varsity players and there are only four players who have varsity experience this year.

“Fortunately, we have committed younger players that have good experience playing over the summer, so we will be in a good position to play,” Bloebaum said.

Similar to Bloebaum, Krabill also believes that the younger players will be beneficial to the program as well because he has a strong junior varsity program.

“Sophomores play junior varsity to get ready,” Krabill said. “We want those guys to build together, learn to win together and know they can depend on each other.”

By spending the preseason preparing in practices, Krabill said that he is hopeful for development throughout the season.

“The focus is for the team to be playing their best by mid-May and peaking during the tournament,” Krabill said.

Krabill added that the team will play a very rigorous schedule by extending their play to non-conference games that will prepare them for the tournament.

“The record may not reflect how good we are due to the schedule, but it will reflect our effort and growth,” he said.

Krabill explained that it has been difficult to adjust to COVID-19 protocols, like limiting the number of players in an area and working with the administration on determining practice times and areas. However, he said he feels that the players will be smart enough to understand how their actions affect the whole team’s safety.

“In the end, the guys need to be hungry and appreciative by taking last season as a time for reflection,” Krabill said.