Marion Warriors baseball coach Shawn Craft has a modest goal to start the 2007 season: to improve a little every day.
“Improving every week, every game. That’s been our focus through spring training,” Craft said. “We’re focused on getting better every day.”
It may seem like a small goal, but with a young squad coming off a 2-17 season in 2006, and playing in a league as tough as the MCAA, Craft’s team needs a place to start.
“We were more of a defensive team—our bats really struggled last year,” Craft said. “Defense is going to have to be a strength again this year, until we can get young guys hitting,” he said.
Craft is in his second year, and graduated two key seniors among many last year: Derek Benson and Cody Weerts.
But making up the difference this year is large group of fresh faces. Of the 18 players on the roster, half are freshmen and three are returning all-league calibre players.
Chase Williams and Zan Fine will be anchoring the corners of the infield, and senior catcher Aaron Burnett will set up behind the plate.
Calvin Jeffrey will form one half of a double-play tandem with freshman Cody Wildin.
Fine, Burnett and Jeffrey all received recognition from the MCAA.
With freshmen Brian Freuchting and Daniel Brassfield, the team has two strong options on the mound.
“We’re looking for big contributions from freshmen, especially for pitching,” Craft said.
Who will be playing in the outfield is significantly less clear at the moment.
“The outfield has four freshmen competing for spots, as well as one returner—Matt Thierolf,” Craft said.
The team will be working hard, but getting the freshmen going will take some time.
“We think we can beat anybody, and we’ve got a lot of winnable games if we can put everything together,” he said.
“Our veteran guys—Calvin Jeffrey, Zan Fine, Aaron Burnett—they’re doing a good job stepping up and getting the other guys going.”
The Warriors open their schedule on Tuesday, April 3, at home against Smoky Valley.