By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Three components of baseball are offense, defense and pitching.
The Goshen High School Redskins have experience in all three of the those aspects among the eight letterwinners back for the 2013 season that is slated to open with a home date against Elkhart Central today at Phend Field at 4:30 p.m.
This is the third attempt to open the Redskin season this week as a game with Mishawaka on Monday and one with Fairfield on Tuesday were both postponed.
If tonight’s game is postponed Goshen wouldn’t begin the season until after spring break on Saturday, April 6 with a doubleheader at New Prairie.
“We have never lost all of our games the week before break since I have been here,” sixth-year coach Hal Farmwald said. “This is bad even for northern Indiana. The only good thing is every other team is in the same situation.”
The Redskins were 10-19 (4-10 in the NLC) a year ago.
“We lost probably nine or 10 games last season by one or two runs,” the coach said. “We are hoping those experiences help us this season. We are looking for good things to happen.”
Senior returnees are outfielder-pitcher Sylas Buller (.291 batting average and 20 RBI). third baseman-catcher, pitcher Luke Harris (.299 batting average and 10 RBI), pitcher Jake Jesse, outfielder-shortstop Austin Henke (.333 batting average, two home runs and 16 RBI), catcher-third baseman Travis Pickard (.333 batting average and eight RBI), pitcher-outfielder Tyler Slagel (.346 batting average and six RBI) and first baseman Kyle Taylor (.219 batting average and four RBI).
“I feel really good about the winter we had. I like this group of seniors,” Farmwald said. “All of them played varsity last season and were contributors. There is strong leadership among the seniors and I love to build on something like that.”
The other letterwinner is junior pitcher-second baseman Jorge Pizana.
“Henke, Buller, Pizana, Pickard and Harris were the first five hitters in the order last season. It feels good to have them all back.”
The pitching staff looks solid with Buller (two wins, 3.65 ERA and 50 strikeouts), Pizana (six wins and 3.53 ERA) and junior Deric Haynes as the anchors.
“Pitching should be a strength,” Farmwald said. “The three of them give us three pretty good starters. Buller and Pizana have pitched since they were sophomores. They have a lot of experience.”
Harris, Jesse (1 win, 1 save and 2.65 ERA), senior Tyler Slagel and sophomore Derek DeMeyer are other pitchers.
“Harris and Jesse can come in in relief,” the coach said. “Slagel started some games a year ago and DeMeyer should see some time on the mound.
“The staff is as deep as I’ve ever seen it here. Part of that is we didn’t have a lot of pitching last season in our senior class so a lot of these guys got put into those roles.”
Losses to graduation from last year’s team were Zach Abney, Diego Garcia, Warren Kay, Casey Looker and Hunter Rivera.
“Kay was a three-year starter at shortstop and Garcia was a three-year starter at first,” Farmwald said. “They were big keys to our defense so we will be looking for kids to step up this season.”
Henke is one player Farmwald is counting on to help solidify the defense.
“Henke was our center fielder last season. We put him out there because his speed gives him the ability to run down balls,” the coach said. “Pizana is playing at short, but when he is on the mound Henke will come into play the position.”
Taylor is making the move from third to first, sophomore Jack Gingerich is at second, Harris at third and Pickard behind the plate.
“Pickard has been catching for me for four years,” Farmwald said. “He is such a good defensive catcher that he made All-NLC just based on his defense.
“We are trusting him to call pitches this year, which is unusual at the high school level.”
Also on the varsity are senior second baseman Cody Smith and junior first baseman-designated hitter Chase Gregory.
“Smith is a kid that had never played baseball before last year,” the coach said. “His skill set may not be where it needs to be, but he is still a kid that can help us off the bench.”
Varsity assistant coaches are Tracy Farmwald, Bob Warstler and Barry Younghans.
“Tracy is an excellent hitting coach and Warstler has moved up from JV coach to varsity pitching coach,” the coach said.
Former Redskin player Al Kemper is the JV coach and is assisted by Chad Collins.
“Al brings a real knowledge of the game and Chad is a former coach that after being out of the program is back on the staff,” Farmwald said.
JV players are juniors DJ Ambrose, Alex Haney and Trevor Weldy; sophomores Bryce Bender, Tyler Born, Jacob Fisher, Daniel Behan Morillo, Adam Pearson, Austin Reed, Aaron Scamehorn and Zach Troyer; freshmen Corbin Harrison and James Paetkau.
The C Team is made up of sophomore Dustin Otto, freshmen Lorenzo Camacho, Nico Castaneda, Salvador Castillo, Dalton Damron, Tito Garcia, Conner Glick, Randall Hernandez, Henry Moore, Miguel Navarro, Wilson Newell, Crist Troyer and Andrew Weddle.