HOUGHTON LAKE – Seth Brandel, Nolan Hans and Matt Gibbons are seniors who have been playing with the Houghton Lake varsity baseball team for a couple years now and should give the Bobcats much needed experienced leadership for the 2018 season.
But, the Bobcats are still young, so the prognosis is guarded. Coach Charles Hockey expects the Bobcats to be improved from where they were last year, but isn’t making any grand pronouncements for league or district success.
“It was a learning experience for them last year, and we just have to cut down on those errors,” Hockey said. “We averaged over six errors a game, and you just can’t win that way. The key is if we can cut down the errors and hit like we should I think we’ll be fine.”
Hans is a pitcher, and when he’s not dealing on the hill fans can expect to see him move all around the infield. Brandel also has displayed his versatility and played every position on the field. He’ll also do some pitching.
Gibbons will be in the pitching rotation as well, in addition to handling some of the catching duties and patrol the outfield. He doesn’t have a specific role in the outfield and will be used at all three positions.
The Bobcats also return sophomore Spencer Evans who’ll start in center field. Others returning are junior Jeremy Bowler as well as senior Luke Reiger. All told the Bobcats have 13 players who have varsity experience back.
“We had freshmen playing at the varsity level last year, and they were very inexperienced,” said Hockey. “You know you’re going to make some mistakes. Bowler is much improved from last year.
“He’s showing some really good potential. We do have a good mix of young and old. Seth is the only one that was on the varsity when I took over three years ago, and I knew what was going to happen with their experience level last year. But, the kids played hard.
“The hardest part for us was focus. They’ve got the drive. They want to win. As long as they stay focused, we’ll be fine. Our goal as a team is to hit .300 as a team. Last year we hit .260.”
Rounding out the rest of the varsity roster are Cameron Fulka, Cameron Allport, Broc Lindsey, Alex Smith, Dalton Rowe, Marcus Cole, Luke Gronski, Paton Daugherty, Landen Vanampel, Anthony Lindemyer, Lucas Vick, Troy Young, Joseph Jordan and Ryan Fraser.
Hockey says the heart of the Bobcats’ batting order should be fine and will remain in their familiar slots.
He added that the Bobcats must keep the strike outs down, and build that strength going into districts.