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. Up next are the Park Hills Central Rebels.
The Rebels racked up an impressive 2022 season where they would string together a 19-game winning streak that included a run to the State Championship Semi-Finals. With their successful 20-4 record last year, Head Coach Ronnie Calvird is nothing if not prepared for the 2023 season.
“When you have a great season like we had last year and begin to tackle the next season, I believe it’s important not to compare ourselves to last year’s team,” said Calvird. “Each year is different in so many ways. It will be important for us, as a team, to have our own new team goals, and put together a plan as a group on how we can best accomplish said goals.”,
Last season, the Rebels had notable Senior leadership in Jett Bridges, Nate Hamski and Brendon Jenkins, but with those players lost to graduation, return impact-talent in Casen Murphy, Kendall Horton and Ty SchweissCasen Murphy, Kendall Horton and Ty Schweiss will be critical. And Calvird is counting on them and his new Senior class to help lead the Rebels into the new year.
“Those Seniors will be missed for so many reasons, and it will be difficult to replace those guys. However, our new Senior group (Schweiss, Horton, and Adam Ramsey) are all great kids who I believe can be great leaders and mentors for our younger guys,” said Calvird.
Looking at the younger classmen, Park Hills Central has an abundance of talent coming up that can help the Rebels potentially get to the State Championship this year. Sophomore catcher Jaxon Jones returns behind the plate after a stellar Freshman campaign, while Barrett Henson and Lucas Whitehead will make their Varsity debuts this season after making waves on the JV team last season.
“Barrett and Lucas both had a tremendous amount of success for the JV team last year, and their number will certainly be called this year. I look forward to them coming in and helping the team in several ways. Lucas will most likely be one of our top arms this year, and he should be able to get both righties and lefties out with improved off-speed pitches.”
When asked about this team’s strengths, Coach Calvird said:
“We have a solid Junior class who was very involved in our team’s successes last year. Casen Murphy was a big part of it. He was our top arm, who pitched all the big games and has a ton of talent both on the mound and at the plate. I look for him to have continued success this year due to his previous successes, as well as how much better he’s gotten this offseason. He is a very hard worker who will be rewarded with successes because of that. Sammy Callaway is another kid who has gotten so much better from last year. I look for him to be a big bat in the middle of our order and produce a lot of runs for us offensively. Matt Manion is another, who has had a lot of success in our JV program; he has gotten a lot stronger this offseason, and I believe that he can help us out offensively from the left side of the plate, adding another strong, left-handed bat. Jobe Bryant is a newcomer for us this year. He hasn’t played baseball as long as others have, but he’s had a ridiculous amount of success in basketball and football the last few years. He is so athletic, and I think he is someone that will be a great addition to our program. He is also a great team guy, and you can’t have enough of those kids. Alex Ikemeier is another fantastic team guy, and he will be a great mentor and leader for our younger guys on how to do the small things the right way every day.”
Looking ahead to the start of the season, Park Hills Central will open up their 2023 campaign in a new tournament at CarShield Field in O’Fallon, MO against Ellsberry, STL Patriots and Montgomery County.
Calvird talked about the fresh start with, “all three teams will be great tests for us. They all had good seasons last year and are returning a lot of their players – which is a great way for us to start the year and hopefully have some learning moments that expose some of our weaknesses and allow us to start the process of getting better.”
As retooled rosters go, it sounds like this season will be a work in progress for the Rebels, but they appear to have enough pieces in place to make another strong run in 2023. A handful of offensive cornerstones and a few big arms can go a long way when you have a crop of exciting young talent ready to break through and make a difference.
It seems that Central should be ready to make waves once again this season.
Good luck Rebels!