Baseball season is right around the corner, and while the weather is warming, the game is changing. Bigger bases, ghost runners, pitch clocks, shift limitations, you name it. Thankfully in the world of High School sports, this season will be just like the last, except for the crop of new talent ready to take center stage in 2023. Practices are getting underway and teams are champing at the bit to show off their diving catches, filthy curves, frozen ropes, barreled-up sweet spots and blinding flashes of leather.
Ameritime Sports is back in the trenches, eye-blacked up and excited to bring you the breakdowns of this year’s teams. Next on the docket are the Jackson Indians.
Last season the Indians were loaded with talent, whether it was at the dish, on the mound or in the field, they were a force to be reckoned with. They went 21-5, swept Conference play and were invited to play at Busch Stadium in April representing the top team in Missouri. They dominated their first District playoff game with a 10-0 win over Poplar Bluff, but then ran into a buzz saw in the form of the Lindbergh Flyers in the next round.
That ended Jackson’s season, but optimism is still high for 2023, and there is a new face at the helm. Josh Roach has stepped in as Head Coach and will be inheriting a solid team. The Indians said goodbye to eight Seniors to graduation, including standouts like Logan Bruns, Cayden Drum, Cameron Marchi and Tyler Malugen, but return 12 Seniors this year who should make an instant impact. Eight of them are already committed to playing in college next year, and the talents of Caden Bogenpohl (OF, P), JP Sauer (P), Kaden Kendle (P), Henley Parker (SS), Baden Hackworth (C), Quinton Borders (3B, P) and Clayton Ernst (1B) should be on full display once again.
Ameritime Sports caught up with the new Head Coach and picked his brain about this season. When asked about how he gets the team ready in the offseason to make another run this year, he told us all about the “Jackson Way”.
“Last year’s team was very talented and had a great season that unfortunately ended much sooner than they wanted. Our district is tough with several high level teams, including Lindbergh. To prepare for the challenges we will no doubt face this season, our student athletes have been putting work in since September of last year. Each of our returning players has been asked to live by a certain standard that we call the “Jackson Way”. This basically means that as a member of our program you are expected to pursue excellence in the classroom, on the field and in our community. Our program is built on a set of pillars that guide us as we pursue excellence. The areas we have been hitting very hard to prepare us for the upcoming season are ‘the Physical’ with our strength, speed and agility training. ‘The Technical’ with our skill development on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. And ‘The Mental’, with our mental approach to the game and learning how to better handle adversity.”
Coach Roach expanded with talk of last year’s departures and some specifics to this year’s crop of talent, saying, “Losing such a big group of talented Seniors like we did last year is challenging, but we have in my opinion an even stronger group of Seniors taking the lead this season. Each of this year’s 12 Seniors are highly talented young men, committed to each other and this program. They are hungry to prove themselves on the field this season and hungry to win. We have set high standards for this season and intend to do everything we can to live up to those standards. With the talent that we have in our starting rotation and our potent offense we expect to be playing deep into the postseason.”
Of course, the team starts with the Seniors, but they can’t do it alone. Roach reflected on what other names will make a notable impact, including underclassmen. “We will have some younger guys that will have the opportunity to step in and make their mark this season. All of our underclassmen are excited and ready to contribute to helping the team succeed, and with the number of early season games we have scheduled, those Junior arms will be needed. We have Juniors Carson McDaniel, Jaiden Glency, Adrian Fox, Garrison Brown, Aiden Shaver and Brynson Garcia ready to make a positive impact from the mound. There are other underclassmen that have the potential to crack the roster from the mound, at the plate and in the field, and we anticipate a battle between several underclassman catchers for the backup spot to Hackworth.”
The Indians do an incredible job of turning their roster over each year and still remaining highly competitive. The rotation is loaded with arms and the offense can mash at virtually every position while providing speed on the bases as well, but the bullpen could be a challenge in 2023, with a lot of inexperience. The relief corps features plenty of arms, but they have very few innings at the Varsity level. It will likely be an area of the team that unfolds as the season progresses.
When asked about the rotation, which is likely to be the Tribes’ biggest strength, Roach beamed when talking about The Big Three. “Our rotation will include three top arms. Bogenpohl, Sauer and Kendle. Bogenpohl and Sauer have true number one stuff. Both throw in the high 80’s to low 90’s with their fastball and have devastating secondary pitches. Kendle is right on their heels with command of all of his pitches and the ability to throw strikes in any count and with any of his pitches. These three look to dominate from the mound this season.”
They will likely have to, with Jackson once again filling out a more than formidable schedule. The Indians will be tested once again, but that is by design. With the competition at a high level all season long, Jackson feels they will be better prepared for the District Tournament, having faced every kind of adversity along the way. And learning to win in spite of it.
Some highlight of this year’s schedule will feature two early tournaments against top-level competition, including Kickapoo, Troy Buchanan, Willard and possibly Francis Howell. Then, of course, the regular season matchups with CBC, Nixa, Triad and Vianney should be intense competitions as well.
Jackson is locked and loaded once again and itching for the season to start, and the fan faithful will be excited to see just how dominant this team can be.
Good luck Indians!