After graduating a group of seniors that meant a lot to the program a year ago, the Nodaway Valley/O-M baseball program looks to reload with another solid group of upperclassmen on this year’s roster.
The Wolverines had two games under their belts coming into this week — a 6-4 loss to Atlantic and an 8-2 loss to Creston — but head coach Dan Jameson saw positives to work from in both outings.
In both games, Nodaway Valley/O-M got quality pitching, and in both outings they out-hit their opponent.
“You lose seniors like you did last year — somebody like a Caelen [DeVault] caliber, who hits .500 and strikes out about 100 people people — that’s a big loss. That’s how it is every year. You’ve just gotta reload. Guys have to step up every year,” Jameson said. “This year we have a few more Orient kids out, and that will help some.”
There are five Orient-Macksburg players on the team’s roster this season. In all, the team will look to enjoy a senior class of Jase Davidson, Boston DeVault, Colt Slocum and Tyson Ross.
DeVault, a Central College baseball commit, will likely be the Wolverines’ top arm on the mound. Last year he had a 6-3 record with a 1.95 ERA with 65 strikeouts. Davidson went 2-1 last season with an ERA of 3.71. Others who will pitch are sophomore Paul Berg, sophomore Eli Harris and Ross, among others.
Dax Kintigh returns at catcher, then several of the aforementioned pitchers will be key on the infield. Ross returns in the outfield.
“The lineup can change at any time, so we’ll keep them competing,” Jameson said. “We’ve got 21 guys out without any eighth graders. We have some guys who can push.”
Ross currently leads off the team’s batting order, as the Wolverines hope to be able to utilize his quickness and steal ability on the bases. DeVault, who hit .579 last season with 15 RBI, three doubles, one triples and two homers, is in the second spot. He already pitched and had quality at-bats through the spring, playing in Carroll. Berg and Davidson are also toward the top of the lineup after they hit over .340 last year.
Jameson would like to see more discipline at the plate going forward.
“We’re trying to really preach to them that we want to hit our pitch and not the pitcher’s pitch. He’s throwing it up there for a reason, most of the time. We want to make sure we’re getting the pitch we can handle,” Jameson said. “Get the pitch you want, time it up, put the bat on the ball and make things happen.”
The Wolverines took the lead in their half of the third inning in their game against Creston. Dawson Nelson, who is out for baseball for the first time this season, drew a walk and Ross was hit by a pitch. DeVault’s single loaded the bases. Berg’s two-RBI double gave NV/O-M a 2-1 lead.
Trailing 2-1 entering the sixth, Creston was able to move baserunners and get walks. Creston’s Jack Walter’s RBI single tied the game at 2 bringing home Sam Henry. Henry got on base with a walk and advanced to third from Dylan Hoepker’s double. Hoepker’s run gave Creston a 3-2 advantage from a passed ball.
The Panthers were not done.
McCoy Haines and Milo Staver each drew walks loading the bases. Kyle Strider’s double scored two runs to give Creston a 5-2 lead. Cael Turner’s RBI brought in another to finish the scoring that inning. Strider finished the game with two hits and a stolen base. Creston finished the game with five hits.
Atlantic scored two runs in the first and four more in the third against the Wolverines, who were unable to get the timely hits needed for a win.
Berg and Davidson went three innings each against the Trojans, combining to strike out 13, walk six, hit two and give up three hits. DeVault went one inning, striking out the side.
DeVault went five innings against Creston with eight Ks, four walks and three hits he gave up. Harris went two innings, striking out two and walking two. Berg also saw time on the hill.
The Wolverines faced a road trip Tuesday to Greene County, will open conference play at Southwest Valley Thursday, May 25 and travel to Wayne the night after.
“We have four or four guys who have been getting their first varsity experience. We’ve just gotta get over the hump, start putting the ball in play and score some runs when we can,” Jameson said. “There’s a lot of potential here, we’ve just gotta keep bringing them along, having patience at the plate, work on our swings and running the bases efficiently, and good things will happen.”