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 Valle Catholic Warriors.
The Warriors had a tremendous regular season last year, going 25-7, but ran into a roadblock in their first game of the District Tournament. They were upset by the Potosi Trojans 6-4, and the season ended after an off day from a team that probably wins that game nine out of ten times.
But it’s time to turn the page. That great 2022 team was loaded with Seniors who have all graduated, and while it’s never easy to say goodbye to standouts the likes of Josh Bieser, Aiden Heberlie (heading to Mizzou), Collin Vaeth, Michael Okenfuss, Isaac Roth and Nathan Schwent, the future is still bright.
Ameritime Sports caught up with Head Coach Nathan Gegg, and asked him about those departed Seniors and what Valle will do moving forward. He responded with, “we lost a great Senior class, guys who were steady and worked very hard for our program for four years. Certainly when you replace 5-6 starters there are lots of question marks early in the season, but we have more competition for spots than ever. It’s been very fun to watch unfold. I told them their job is to make my job more difficult by refusing to be left off the field when we make any sort of personnel decisions.”
Trusting in your system is key, and Coach Gegg and his staff don’t take anything for granted. Especially hard work. He followed up with, “Our preparation does not deviate from year to year in regards to what we think is necessary to go where we would all like to go. We tweak the process after some reflection from the previous year, but at the end of the day it takes what it takes. Our kids have worked very hard since January 1st to give themselves a great chance to have a successful season.”
Coach Gegg was also kind enough to breakdown what the returning starters and new crop of talent looks like in 2023.
“Chase Fallert, Jackson Fowler, Carson Tucker, Clayton Drury, Aaron Eftink and Brandon Giesler are our six Seniors, and are all guys who will make meaningful contributions to our team. All six are potential starters at this time.”
“We also have a strong Junior class of nine that looks to to compete for time. Isaac Viox and Grant Fallert started most of the season last year as Sophomores and should be towards the top of our order this season. Alex Viox (Isaac’s twin) looks to take over the catching duties from Bieser. Preston Lurk will have an immediate impact on the mound after pitching some valuable varsity innings late last year. Rylan Fallert will take over in centerfield for Heberlie. Cohen Gibbs, Isaac Basler, Cannon Wolk and Noah Bauman all had very good JV seasons last year and are all in the hunt for starting spots in the outfield.”
That talented bunch will also be pushed by an impressive Sophomore class, who went 15-1 last spring and won the American Freshmen Legion State Championship. The upperclassmen should expect some competition from these seasoned baseball players, even though their experience hasn’t been at the Varsity level.
One thing that Valle does extremely well is turn over their roster each year when, say, a half dozen Seniors move on to the next level. They have an adept ability of filling holes from a vast talent pool and should do so once again in 2023.
Coach Gegg spoke to that with some comments about the rotation and lineup, saying, “I think we have 5-6 very quality arms for the Class 3 level. Chase, Clayton, Grant, and Preston have emerged as a pseudo “rotation”, but we have several others that will need to pitch big innings and earn their time on the mound with positive results. We are certainly different than last year in our lineup makeup. We have lots of speed near the top and bottom of the order with some good power threats in the middle.”
This group of Warriors will be busy this spring, as their schedule is highly competitive once again. That’s the way Valle likes it though, as playing against larger schools and higher classes breeds success and the ability to overcome adversity.
This season they will play at least 33 games and will likely add a couple more if the right situation comes along. Conference games and any matchups with district opponents are always high-profile affairs, but there will be some rivalry games too against the likes of Ste. Genevieve, St. Vincent, Park Hills and Jefferson R7.
Valle will also play some bigger schools like DeSoto, Hillsboro, Jeff City, Notre Dame and Cape Central, but will be challenged by some small school powerhouses like Oran and Cooter as well. The Warriors will also travel to Lebanon for an always-competitive tournament, and will see Camdenton, Fatima, and Union.
This Valle squad has their work cut out for them, but they have a great group of ballplayers that should comprise yet another formidable roster. They will be looking to make some more noise this season and a deep run in the playoffs.
Good luck Warriors!