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Madison lost Buckeye Division Player of the Year Reid Davis and second-team pick Ben Paarlberg from that team, but plenty of talent returns for Morrison’s second season as coach.
Junior pitcher-first baseman Tristan Sipple and senior catcher-pitcher Cameron Svarda were All-Buckeye Division first-team picks. Senior third baseman-pitcher Cam Baker and junior center fielder-pitcher Gabe Higgs earned honorable mention.
Also back after starting significant numbers of games last season are two seniors, infielder Noah Lehman and outfielder Jordan Smith, three juniors in infielders Luke Hughes and Turner Campbell and outfielder Jake Edwards, and two sophomores in infielder Turner Campbell and outfielder Izayah Altman.
“Our outfielders — Gabe Higgs, Jordan Smith, Jake Edwards — are going to be vital to our success,” Morrison said. “These guys show up every day and compete. I’ve never seen young men like this that practice as hard as they play in a game. They’ve got a blue-collar work mentality.
“Having Cam Svarda really helps. He is a great battery mate with Tristan Sipple. Svarda’s mind-set this offseason has been to really make everyone around him be a better player.
“Two guys that have really had great offseasons and I look to be impact players for us are Cameron Baker and Luke Hughes,” Morrison added. “Both are leaders physically and emotionally. Our infield and outfield may look differently even though we are returning nine guys with significant varsity starts.”
Morrison expects junior pitcher Jake Munafo to fortify the pitching staff.
“He is a (6-foot-6) guy who is taking his role in stride,” Morrison noted. “He really works hard, and we’re excited to have him in the baseball program. At times we may sprinkle a few freshmen in the mix.”
Two freshmen, infielder Tyler Murphy and catcher-third baseman Tyler McCracken, are listed on Madison’s varsity roster.
After opening the season with a nonconference home game at 5 p.m. on March 23 against National Trail, the Mohawks will begin SWBL play at home March 25 agianst Preble Shawnee.
Morrison knows opponents will be motivated against his squad.
“We’re not naïve to the fact that we’ve got experience and talent coming back,” he said. “Our junior and senior classes are seasoned and ready. Our loss to Madeira in the regional semifinals last season really didn’t sit well with them.
“We’d like to repeat as league champions, but that is a tall task. Our half of the league has had three teams in the regionals the past two seasons. Every night in our league is a dogfight — a lot of good talent and talented teams. We know we’ve got a target on our backs, but our main focus is just getting better each day. We aren’t worried about postseason until our regular season is complete. Then we’ll re-focus on a ‘new season.’ We teach our kids to control the controllables — attitude and effort. We want to compete night in and night out, one pitch at a time. We don’t worry about the outcome.
“Our players know they have to play hard every single day as a team. We have to leave egos behind and be unselfish. If we play as a team and do our jobs, we will have a chance in each game we play.”