Depth a question for Warriors

These seniors and letter-winners return to lead Marion baseball this season: front row (from left), William Adame, Peyton Heidebrecht, Remington Putter, Corbin Wheeler, Cole Srajer; back row, Wesley Dicks, Mason Pedersen, Nathan Baldwin, Dylan Pippin.
These seniors and letter-winners return to lead Marion baseball this season: front row (from left), William Adame, Peyton Heidebrecht, Remington Putter, Corbin Wheeler, Cole Srajer; back row, Wesley Dicks, Mason Pedersen, Nathan Baldwin, Dylan Pippin.
While the Marion baseball team lacks depth this season, sixth-year coach Roger Schroeder is confident the Warriors have the pieces to build a successful season.

The Warriors went 14-8 a year ago, finishing second in the Heart of America league with an 8-2 record.

Marion will play without four graduating seniors?Brett Voth, Jacob Baldwin, Dakota Stimpson and Trevor Kruse?as the Warriors seek to build on last year?s successes.

Pitching, catching

The Warriors sustained a significant pitching loss with the graduation of Voth, a two-time all-state recipient. His void will be replaced by committee, Schroeder said.

Senior Dylan Pippin returns with the most experience on the mound and will be Marion?s No. 1 starter until proven otherwise, Schroeder said. An honorable mention all-league recipient, Pippin was 3-3 a year ago with an earned-run average of 3.23 over 431?3 innings.

Junior Nathan Baldwin is another arm the Warriors will rely on this year. Marion?s starting catcher, Baldwin battled injury throughout last season and did not see varsity action on the mound.

?He?s looking great so far,? Schroeder said. ?He?s going to be our No. 1 catcher, and he?s going to start a game for us on the mound once a week, so I?m really excited to see him fully healthy, hopefully for the whole season.?

Sophomore Corbin Wheeler is expected to step into an increased pitching role. Having pitched at the junior varsity level, Wheeler was called upon to enter in relief during a late-season game at Little River and ended up earning the win.

Completing the starting rotation is junior Mason Pedersen, who went 1-0 while recording an ERA of 4.67 over 21 innings. He started throwing more innings about halfway through the season, Schroeder said.

Schroeder said he anticipates using junior Peyton Heidebrecht out of the bullpen. The junior was 1-1 a year ago with a 5.67 ERA over 21 innings.

?We?re going to be all right if we can catch the ball behind them, which we struggled early last year,? Schroeder said. ?If we can start the season where we finished it last year defensively, those five guys and maybe some other guys, we?re going to be just fine on the mound.?

Infield

In addition to losing Voth at shortstop, Marion will play without first-team, all-league first baseman Jacob Baldwin this year.

The Warriors will rely on Wheeler at shortstop this season. As the year progressed, Wheeler saw more time in the infield and is expected to be a contributor this season.

Peyton Heidebrecht, a first-team selection, returns at third base.

?Peyton learned the third base position kind of on the fly last year,? Schroeder said. ?I think he?s going to be much better defensively this year.?

Returning at second base is senior Remington Putter. Sophomore Cole Srajer also saw time at second, but Schroeder anticipates putting him in left field this season.

Two Warriors are battling for the starting role at first base: junior Dylan Deines and freshman Evann Heidebrecht.

Sophomores Jacob Von?denkamp (third base/outfield) and Garrett Hoffner (catcher) join Evann Heide?brecht as newcomers.

Outfield

Marion will play without second-team, all-league selection Dakota Stimpson and Trevor Kruse, both of whom saw time in the outfield.

Srajer is cross-training in the middle infield and played some second base in 2015, but Schroeder anticipates putting him in left field.

Pedersen is expected to play center field when he?s not on the mound, with Pippin in right, although Schroeder said it will be important to find someone else for that role when Pippin pitches.

Defensively, Schroeder expects the Warriors to be strong this season.

Offensive power

Having graduated Voth, who batted a team-best .387 over 22 games, as well as Jacob Baldwin (.310 over 20 games), the Warriors will need to find offensive power.

?I?m not quite sure how we?re going to score runs yet,? Schroeder said. ?We do have some things we haven?t had in the past. We can run a little bit, which is good. We lack a little bit in the power department, especially compared to our teams two, three years ago.?

Schroeder said the Warriors will need to capitalize on their strengths.

?We?re just made up so differently, we have to change our style as a staff to accommodate their strengths,? he said. ?We have to play a little more small ball. There are some capable hitters if they buy into what we?re doing and buy into a good approach and use that every time we?re out here.?

Peyton Heidebrecht and Srajer will lead the charge. Heidebrecht batted .377 over 22 games last year.

?Peyton Heidebrecht had a very good season last year as a sophomore, really came on in the second half,? Schroeder said. ?I think he could be a guy in the middle of the order who can really carry us.?

Srajer hit .310 over 22 games.

?About halfway through the season last year, we plugged him in at the leadoff spot, and we just took off,? Schroeder said. ?We started playing better. He?s another guy that could have a really good season for us.

?Outside of those two guys, we really don?t have a whole lot of proven hitters, but we have a lot of capable hitters. It?s going to have to be a group effort, and it?s going to take a lot of discipline from each player to be able to get that stuff done.?

Season outlook

Schroeder expects the Warriors to be competitive in the league as they aim to build on last year?s 8-2 finish.

?The Heart of America league should be wide open this year,? he said. ?I expect Sedgwick, Inman, Ell-Saline and Moundridge, along with our team, to be in the top half of the standings.?

With 24 players on the roster?and about half are expected to see varsity action?Schroeder wishes he had a bit more depth, but remains positive for the season ahead.

?We?re not a super deep team by any means, so finding those pieces is going to be challenging, but I think the pieces are all here,? he said. ?It?s just finding them and getting them in the right (place).?

Marion opened its season with a pair of losses at Chase County last week. The Warriors were scheduled to play at Sedgwick April 5 and will travel to Benning?ton April 8. Marion?s home-opener is April 12 versus Council Grove.