GALION — The Northmor Golden Knights baseball team hopes that strength does come in numbers.
“Our numbers are up to 33 (players) in grades 9-12,” says Knights’ head coach Buck Workman. “I’m hopeful the competition for spots that comes with the numbers will lead to our boys working hard and competing daily.”
Workman, entering his 17th season as Northmor’s skipper, is looking to improve on last year’s 11-13 finish (6-7 in the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Blue Division). Workman has a 185-217 record leading the Knights.
The Knights will have some big shoes to fill after losing Jake Farley, Gunnar Lilly and Bryan Hammond to graduation.
Farley was second-team All-Ohio last season and a three-time, first team All-MOAC player. Lilly was second-team all-conference last year and Hammond was named to the honorable mention Central District squad.
“I think that we’re going to miss our three graduates greatly,” Workman said. “Their leadership will be tough to replace, but I think we have a couple of upperclassmen that can do it.”
Northmor will look to nine returning letterwinners on their roster to step up in 2017.
Jordan Wiseman is a three-year letterwinner returning on the left side of the infield and on the mound. Seniors Nate Hall and Sam Eichorn will also be back for the Knights. Hall is a two-year lettermen and will get a lot of his work behind the plate. Hall was named to the Central District second team in 2016. Eichorn, also a two-year lettermen, is a pitcher/catcher hybrid. Junior Conan Becker will be working toward his third varsity letter as the Knights’ centerfielder. Junior Tyler Kegley will return as a two-year letterwinner at first base for Northmor. A pair of utility players and one-year letterwinners return in Kyle Kegley and Austin Wheeler. Kegley can play anywhere in the field and pitch. Kegley received an honorable mention nod on the all-conference team a season ago. Wheeler will also be back for Northmor, vying for a second varsity letter behind the plate or in the field where needed. Sophomores Mostyn Evans (second base and right field) and Ryland Thomas (third base) are the other returning letterwinners for Workman’s crew.
“We’re going to need to be more consistent on a daily basis. Every night out is tough in this league and you have to play seven full innings to get wins,” Workman said.
Fredericktown and Highland will be tough competition for the Knights to finish the MOAC Blue, while Centerburg, East Knox and Cardington are poised to make a conference title push.
As for his outlook on the season, Workman seems optimistic.
“I’m excited about this group. I think that we will be a little more athletic than we have been in a long time,” he said. “We just need to throw strikes and make the plays on defense. We need to limit mistakes on our end to give ourselves a chance.”
Northmor begins its campaign Saturday, March 25 with a home doubleheader against the Crestline Bulldogs. MOAC Blue play starts on Wednesday, March 29 at Centerburg.
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