The Forester baseball team will begin their season tomorrow against Saint Catherine University (Ky.) at a three-day tournament in Kentucky. Their focus has been on preparation in anticipation of the season.
The Foresters (26-26, 20-15 in conference play last season) will be forced to face the beginning stretch of their season without Jamon Hammel, their senior starting shortstop. Hammel suffered a torn left labrum during winter training and will be out for the opening stretch of games, Frame said.
“We have moved a couple of infielders around to accommodate for his (Hammel’s) absence until he is healthy,” Mike Frame, head coach, said.
Sophomore Blake Hohlbein said that the team is battling through injuries but is looking forward to a strong season.
“We’ve had a couple guys banged up, but I think we’ll be just fine,” Hohlbein said. “We have a strong returning defense that should help put us over the top.”
Frame said the Foresters have improved during winter training and he is confident about their chances this season.
“This team for the most part has a great work ethic,” he said. “Our leadership has been solid over the winter months.”
The team’s schedule will be challenging, Frame said, but is set up in a way that allows the team to develop. The Foresters have early season matchups against Indiana University Southeast and Martin Methodist College (Ken.), both of which received votes in the preseason NAIA DII Coaches’ Poll.
“Our priority ever year is to win the conference,” he said. “If we cannot win the regular season conference championship, we want to play well enough to get into the conference tournament and win that.”
The conference champion and conference tournament champion get automatic bids to the national championship. The preseason conference poll pegged the Foresters at No. 5. Taylor University, last year’s conference champion, was the only Crossroads League team to receive votes in the NAIA DII poll.
The team will graduate eight seniors at the end of the season, four position players (Hammel, Josh Lanphier, Adam Christner and Jordan Klobfenstein) and four pitchers (Brian Kirschbaum, Xyan Adkisson, Cody Walters and Tyler Palmer).
Frame said he feels confident the team is recruiting well.
“We feel very good about our recruiting for next fall and feel like we have addressed our needs in light of our seniors who are graduating,” he said.
The Foresters’ first home game will be March 13 at 2 p.m. against Aquinas College (Mich.).