New faces for TMP baseball
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian baseball coach Brian Schumacher remembered just one squad in his six years that had as many new faces as this year's Monarchs.
The 2009 squad had 12 freshmen and posted a 7-14 record, but eventually, those freshmen helped carry the Monarchs to three state appearances, two second-place finishes and a 65-11 combined record in their next three seasons.
That 10-player core graduated in the spring, but Schumacher said this year's team has the talent to make some noise despite having a shortage of varsity returners.
"I'm kind of comparing this season to that when we had a lot of uncertainties, but some kids stepped up and did a really good job," he said.
TMP is scheduled to start the season with a doubleheader against Scott City at 4 p.m. Tuesday at either TMP Field or Larks Park. Schumacher said the field at TMP might not be ready for play, so the game could be played at Larks Park or made up on another date.
The Monarchs return just one regular varsity starter from last season: senior Shane Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, a third baseman, shortstop and pitcher last season, was tremendous in 2012, posting a 2.36 earned-run average and 6-1 record on the mound.
At the plate, he was a .400 hitter.
Schumacher said Zimmerman primarily will play shortstop this season when he's not pitching.
Schumacher said Zimmerman is quiet, but with an inexperienced squad, he's been a solid leader.
"He leads by example," Schumacher said. "... He is making everyone feel welcome and heping out where he can."
The Monarchs No. 2 starter likely will be junior Cameron Brin.
Brin saw limited action last season, but when he did play, he impressed, going 2-0 on the mound with a 1.75 ERA.
Schumacher said he was impressed by Brin's defensive prowess and expects him to serve a utility role in the infield, likely playing shortstop when Zimmerman is pitching and second base when neither person is pitching. He even can catch if that's what the team needs.
"He can play about anywhere," Schumacher said.
The rest of the regular pitching staff will consist of sophomore Kameron Schmidt, sophomore Ryan Schippers, sophomore Liam Stults and freshman Ricky Hockett.
Junior Jordan Gottschalk transitioned to catcher last season when the team realized it would need to replace senior catcher Taylor Pfeifer. He'll start there this season.
Schippers, who Schumacher said would have started as a freshman last season on most teams, will start at first base, and sophomore Braiden Werth will start at third base.
The outfield is in a platoon situation with Stults, Schmidt, junior Michael Schulte, junior Taylor Wasinger, freshman Justin Pfeifer and freshman Jared Vitztum.
"It will be a matter of who is going to step up and be consistent for us at the plate," Schumacher said.
Schumacher admitted its tough moving on without last season's senior class, which included his son Dylan Schumacher. He said he coached them since they were about 8 years old.
"Those 10 seniors, all of them had a part in the success we've had in the last four years," Schumacher said. "It's hard to replace that."
However, he said he's excited about this year's team. Many of the players competed on summer and fall baseball teams in preparation for the season.
"The talent is there," Schumacher said. "It's just a matter of if they can step up and fill the shoes of the kids we've lost."