The Park Hills Central Rebels Varsity Baseball squad is back in business this year after last season’s 16-8 showing. Amazingly, they didn’t graduate a single Senior, so the roster is entirely intact, which is an advantage that can’t be overstated. The sky is the limit this season for a squad loaded with upperclassmen, and that veteran seasoning should translate to success on the diamond.
Ameritime caught up with Head Coach Ronnie Calvird and picked his brain about the expectations for this year. He gave us his thoughts and broke down the roster for us as well. His responses are below.
Who do you see as being your top and key athletes this season? Add a brief explanation of their importance.
P/OF-Casen Murphy (Soph.)
“Casen returns as one of our top arms and top bats. He made a huge impact on our program’s success last year as a Freshman. He threw 48 innings, compiled a 6-1 record with a 1.89 ERA. He also was one of our top hitters. He hit .351 with 15 RBIs and had 8 SBs. He will be in the middle of our order again this year as well as taking on some of our biggest opponents on the mound.”
P/OF-Brendon Jenkins (Sr.)
“Brendon returns as our other top pitcher. Brendon had a great summer and has improved quite a bit over the past year. He has put on some good weight with a meal plan and has worked hard in the weight room. He threw 41 innings for us as a Junior and finished with a 4.06 ERA. I expect him to eat a lot of innings for us again this year and have a lot of success.”
1B-Slade Schweiss (Sr.)
“Slade is our starting 1st baseman and hits in the middle of the order for us. He has been a key player in our program since he was a Freshman. Last year he hit .314 and had 19 RBIs for us. He is also a threat on the bases as he compiled 14 SBs last year. He is a leader on our team and produces at the plate for us each year. He had a good summer and got a lot of quality at-bats against good pitching. He has gained some strength and speed since last year, and I expect him to have a good year for us defensively at 1st and offensively in the middle of our order.”
What are your expectations for the team this season?
“Honestly, I expect this to be a fun year. As a coach, an enjoyable season isn’t always the season where we win the most games. An enjoyable season looks different for every coach. For me, a significant factor for an enjoyable season comes down to good Senior leadership. Good Senior leaders take care of many issues before they become problems on the team. Good Seniors get practice started on time without having to be prompted. Good Seniors are able to coach many of the younger players without the coaches having to stop practice and take time talking to players. Having good Senior leadership results in efficient practices which is an awesome luxury and makes for an enjoyable year. An enjoyable year for me is one where we compete in every game as well. I believe this team has the talent and makeup to compete in every game. I believe they are a more confident group than last year, and confidence breeds success.”
Are there any key games this season?
“Every game is important. Obviously I can point to a few teams which have turned into some good rivalries for us like our conference opponents.”
What are the strengths of this team, and what aspects do you think will be a work in progress?
“This team has many strengths. Some of those strengths include being able to throw and catch the baseball. We should be pretty good defensively. Having a team that is pretty good defensively results in pitchers being able to be more efficient and work quicker on the mound. We should not give teams too many free outs. In high school baseball, this is a huge factor in team success. If we can force the opponent to earn runs instead of getting lucky and falling into them, that will be a good thing.”
“We also are fortunate to have a lot of arms that can help us at the varsity level. Our main arms will be Murphy, Jenkins, Kendall Horton, Nate Hamski, Jett Bridges and Lucas Whitehead. I have confidence in all of these guys when it comes to being competitive on the mound for us and giving us a great chance to win baseball games.”
“We will also be pretty good at running the bases. We broke the school record for stolen bases in a season last year with 90. Since we are returning everyone, we should be even more efficient at swiping bags and taking advantage of the defense by running the bases well.”
“Our biggest work in progress will be our ability to score runs. I DO think we will be better at that this year with the addition of a couple bats in the lineup that weren’t here last year, but if we have a glaring weakness, I believe it is our ability to drive in runs and have extra base hits. I’m hoping our guys are all a year older, a year wiser and a year stronger.”
Mention any other athletes you would like to say something about. Maybe some newcomers, or athletes coming off injury.
SS/2b-Ty Schweiss (Jr.)- “Ty is a Junior and will be a big part of our success this season. He will hit in the top of the order for us and play middle infield. He takes pride in his defense and is one of our rocks defensively. He is very good about not striking out and typically puts the ball in play and puts pressure on the defense in that regard.”
SS/2b-Michael Vance (Sr.)- “Michael is one of our leaders. He does a great job of bringing a positive attitude every day to practice. He does a great job in mentoring our younger guys and being another coach on the field for us. I am really excited for Michael to have a good year this year. He has put in a lot of extra time in the batting cages, and I believe that will pay off for him this year.”
3B-Bridges (Sr.)- “Jett is another Senior with a lot of valuable experience. He has been someone who has been a bit of a utility player for us over the years playing LF, RF, 3B and 2B. He was the starting quarterback of our football team this year and did a great job of being a coachable kid, which all coaches love. I also expect him to have a good year.”
P/CF-Horton (Jr.)- “Kendall is a Junior OF for us. He is awesome in the outfield at covering a lot of ground and being able to keep guys from taking extra bases off us. He will also be a big part of our pitching rotation this year. He has a lot of raw, natural ability. As long as he throws strikes, he will have a great year on the mound.”
DH-Trent Mayberry (Sr.)- “Trent is someone you can’t help but root for. He is a great kid who has arguably put in more cage time than anyone on the team. He will be in the lineup for us as I believe he will be a tough out at the plate. He does a great job of finding the barrel.”
P-Hamski (Sr.)- “Nate is a Senior left-handed pitcher for us. I am really excited for him this year. He is someone who could be a huge part of our rotation. When he throws strikes, he can beat anyone. His fastball has a lot of natural sink/arm-side run. His changeup is also really good to right handed hitters. I expect him to have a good year this year.”
OF/P-Brett Richardson (Sr.)- “Brett is someone with a lot of natural athleticism. He is able to play a lot of positions for us which makes him valuable. I expect him to play some outfield for us this year and possibly get a few innings on the mound for us as well.”
OF/P-Matt Manion (Soph.)- “Matt is a young guy who has a lot of raw athleticism and strength. He is someone who will factor in for some pinch-hitting situations, courtesy running situations and pinch running situations. He has a lot of power from the left side and has the ability to drive the ball in the gap.”
C-Jaxon Jones (Fr.)- “Jaxon is a Freshman catcher/utility player for us. He is a catcher with a lot of natural ability when it comes to receiving the ball. He hits from the left side and has a knack for finding the barrel. I expect him to have a role for us this season behind the plate and in the batting order.”
DH/UTIL-Sammy Callaway (Soph.)- “Sammy is coming off an injury. As a Freshman, he played one game for the varsity and then unfortunately got hurt and had to miss the season. I expect him to play a big part in our offensive production this year.”
P-Whitehead (Fr.)- “Lucas is a left-handed pitcher and should be a staple in our pitching rotation this year. He is someone who throws a lot of strikes which bodes well for our defensive-minded team. I am excited for Lucas to get some valuable experience this year.”
It sounds like the Rebels will have a lot of weapons this season and a solid crop of Senior leaders to lean on. This is a group that can pick it, pitch it and swipe it so they will certainly be an entertaining bunch to watch. If some of the new faces can add some pop to the offense it appears that District success and beyond could be in their future.
Time to find out. Good luck Rebels!