Chase Fink (right) fields a ball in a Mt. Zion baseball practice.
By BLAKE FAITH
The Mt. Zion baseball team is geared to improve this year with Coach JD Arnold being at the helm for the Braves for his second year. Coach Arnold’s goal is to flip the win record and get his team to 15 to 20 wins this year and contend and win a regional championship.
Coach Arnold said that in the first couple weeks back in practice that the energy and effort has been good and that is in part due to his team knowing what he expects. The team in the off-season worked on hitting and that is visible in the swings along with arm strength and players hit the weight room hard in the off-season.
The Braves graduated three starters last year in Ethan Hamrick, Kolby Koslofski and Gavin McInerney.
“Well, the one guy that really had experience last year was Ethan Hamrick,” Coach Arnold said. “We were very young and inexperienced last year. We’re still going to be young, but we’re going to have a lot of experience now. A lot of those guys, Jackson Byler, Sam Driscoll, Drew Hittmeier, Evan Hamrick were freshman and sophomores last year. Now they’re sophomores and juniors and they’re used to varsity competition and that experience is going to take us to the next level I believe.”
Driscoll and Hittmeier return as varsity starting pitchers and outfielders along with senior Robert Chausse who also plays third base. Hamrick will be the catcher behind the plate. The Braves also return Tony Alford and Chase McInerney who saw a number of innings last year. Them along with the team have taken a different approach to leadership which in part has been due to their focus.
“Now that we’ve been around each other and they understand what I expect of them it’s gone pretty, pretty smooth,”Coach Arnold said. “They do a pretty good job of regulating themselves and policing themselves now. So they don’t like it when Big Bad Arnold comes down on them so they regulate themselves pretty good and that helps.”
Chausse has taken on his senior leadership role of leading by example by showing players how to do drills, making sure those drills are done and making sure players aren’t goofing off to get the team in trouble.
“To me being a leader just means keeping the kids that still haven’t really figured out that they’re almost adults and they need to learn how to act,” Chausse said.
Chausse’s team goal is to be above .500 record wise and individual goal is to have a lower ERA. Chausse said he wants to not be remembered for accolades or records, but as a teammate that people liked and enjoyed playing with.
This year the Braves first game will be against Maroa-Forsyth on March 20. Coach Arnold’s overall message for his team and this season is that they’re going to be a fun team who works hard and plays really aggressively so they should be fun to watch.