Pitchers and catchers are to summer-league baseball what oil is to the world market at the moment.
Scarce and in demand.
That said, Post 95 Senior American Legion baseball coach Steve Hosick has to feel like a Saudi Arabian prince right now, as his roster features an unprecedented reserve of pitchers and catchers.
‘We have at least eight pretty salty pitchers right now,’ said Hosick as he scanned his roster last Thursday. ‘And we’ve got at least three guys who can catch for us.’
Potential battery combinations will, indeed, be numerous for the Cardinals.
Brownstown ace Jared Winters heads up an exciting pitching staff, coming off a dominating sophomore spring in which he allowed just four runs in his final five starts, striking out 66 in 37 innings during that span.
Three-fourths of a Patoka pitching staff that led the Warriors to an 18-11 overall record last year will also be in the mix, as Tyson Murray and Cody Wimberly return to the team, and lefty newcomer Luke Murfin joins the fold.
Murray posted a 2.04 ERA his senior year, while Wimberly struck out 47 in 33 1/3 innings. Murfin went 3-0 in limited action during his sophomore season, and Hosick sees a big upside for the southpaw.
‘He’s going to surprise some people,’ said Hosick of Murfin, who’s impressed in preseason practices. ‘I think that kid has the potential to be a ball of fire for being his age.’
Vandalia products Brenden Wasmuth, Ryan Thiele and Trevor Summers should also be in the pitching mix, along with Lewis and Clark College pitcher Kyle Huber. Huber, a Hillsboro native, joined Post 95 after Litchfield’s Legion program folded up recently.
South Central product Nick Simmons will see plenty of innings as well after throwing well for Post 95 last summer, and fellow Cougar alum Will Crain rounds out what could wind up being a 10-man pitching staff.
Hosick believes there will be plenty of quality on the mound to go along with the quantity.
‘When I first started looking at this roster, I realized we’ve got some pitchers that can control other team’s run (production),’ Hosick said. ‘And the more I see these guys hit, the more I think we’re going to score some runs, too.’
With up to 17 players on the roster, a number of combinations are possible in the batting order and in the field.
Winters, Murray and VCHS senior-to-be Jared Herker will be in the mix at first base, with many others capable of playing there as well.
‘About any infielder can play first base,’ Hosick said. ‘And they know that whoever’s hitting is going to be playing first base.’
Wasmuth and Crain are likely to start somewhere in the middle of the infield when they’re not on the mound, in addition to serving as catalysts atop Post 95’s order.
Crain is coming off a stellar senior season in which he hit .378 with five homers, 40 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 52 games, but he may miss some games due to rodeo commitments.
Coming off a junior season in which he hit .419, Wimberly will see a lot of time at the hot corner.
‘I think we’re going to see some good things out of him this summer,’ Hosick said. ‘He can pick it over there, and, I’ll tell you what, he’s hitting the snot out of the ball.’
Herker will also see time at third, as will Simmons. Thiele and Andy Hosick can fill in on the infield or in the outfield, while Adam Hosick will be in the outfield mix.
Thiele, Summers and Levi Tackett give Post 95 a three-headed monster behind the plate. Thiele was an all-SCC-East first-team pick in his first full year of catching as a sophomore, winning VCHS’s infield gold glove award despite his inexperience.
Summers is coming off a successful first year at Lake Land College, where he hit .311 as a freshman. Summers can literally play anywhere on the field, and could very well end up in the outfield.
Tackett is coming off a breakthrough sophomore season behind the plate at Brownstown.
VCHS standouts Mitch Whightsil (OF-P) and Dallas Gray (P-SS) may join the fold as well.
All told, Hosick believes the ingredients are in place to greatly improve on last summer’s 4-19 record.
‘We’ve got some guys that I think can play,’ Hosick said.
Hosick takes over the head coaching reigns this season from Tim Summers after serving as an assistant last summer. Hosick was also a volunteer assistant this past spring for the VCHS baseball team.