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TMP Baseball set to get underway

4/1/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

The Thomas More Prep-Marian baseball team lost only one player from last year's squad in ace pitcher Shane Zimmerman and his 1.54 earned run average. While those are big shoes to fill, TMP coach Brian Schumacher believes he has the feet -- or rather the arms -- to do it.

"I feel confident about our pitching staff," Schumacher said. "We got a lot of guys that can throw the ball and do a nice job for us."

TMP opens the 2014 season today at Scott City with a 4 p.m. doubleheader. On the mound for the first two games will be junior Kameron Schmidt and senior Cameron Brin. Schumacher expects Schmidt to take over as the Monarchs' dominant pitcher this season.

Schmidt pitched in eight games last year, going 3-1 with a 3.50 ERA. Brin was 5-1 in eight games with a 3.20 ERA.

"Kameron Schmidt, early in the season last year, before he hurt his hip, was throwing really, really well," Schumacher said. "And right now he is looking good in the bullpen and has been good on some scrimmaging that we got. He's got the potential. It's just a matter of if we can get that out of him."

The Monarchs are looking to get back to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2012. TMP is coming off a 15-7 season in which it lost in regionals to Lakin, 4-2.

It was the worst season since a 7-14 campaign in 2009.

The 2010, 2011 and 2012 teams combined for a 65-11 record with two state runner-up finishes (2010, 2011).

"We expect to get back to state, but we've got a long ways to go yet," Schumacher said.

"I'm just a little skeptical right now and a lot of it is the lack of practice as a unit.

"Defensively we got to have some guys step up at some different positions and be competitive."

The rest of the names in the starting group for TMP will be familiar from year's past. Senior Jordan Gottschalk returns to catch, while the rest of the infield will consist of junior Ryan Schippers (first base), senior Grant Romme (second), junior Braiden Werth (third) and sophomore Ricky Hockett at shortstop.

Brin could also split time at shortstop when not pitching.

The outfield isn't quite as solid heading into today's games.

"As far as outfield, we've had a little bit of an issue as far as trying to have some kids step up for really all three of the positions," Schumacher said.

As of now, senior Taylor Wasinger, junior Liam Stults and sophomore Jared Vitztum will get the nod in the outfield. Schmidt could see time there as well.

Getting on base could be a strong point for the Monarchs this season. TMP returns three players that had a batting average of more than .300 in Gottschalk (.342), Schippers (.386) and Werth (.400).

However, the emphasis will be finishing out those opportunities with runs, something the team struggled with at times last year.

"Hitting wise, I think that will actually be one of our strengths. As a team we hit the ball fairly well, or we have been," Schumacher said. "In the past we've had times where we left a lot of base runners, then we don't finish as far as capitalizing.

"If we just go out and do the things we've been working on, things should take care of themselves for us. But we will have to see. It's early in the season. I'm sure a lot of the other teams have been in the same shoes as we are."

Following today's games with Scott City, TMP will travel to Garden City on April 8 and Ellis on April 15. The Monarchs' home opener is April 17 against Hoisington.