BLUE DRAGON BASEBALL
No. 20 Hutchinson (0-0) at Coffeyville (0-0)
Hutchinson CC Sports Information
Over the last three seasons, Hutchinson Community College Baseball has produced more wins – 125 – than any other team in the Jayhawk Conference Western Division.
But a lack of depth, especially on the mound, has stymied the Blue Dragons in the Region VI Tournament.
Head coach Ryan Schmidt and his coaching staff has worked to rectify that issue for 2019.
Now Schmidt gets to start seeing if that hard work will pay dividends as the 2019 season opens on Saturday with a doubleheader at Coffeyville.
Hutchinson enters the season as the preseason favorite to win the Jayhawk West this season and the Blue Dragons are ranked No. 20 in the NJCAA preseason rankings.
Starting his seventh season, Schmidt – he is 221-124 in six seasons at Hutchinson – brings back two starting pitchers, an established closer, one starting outfielder and an entire intact infield from last season 39-22 team that finished tied for third in the Jayhawk West and third in the Region VI Tournament, the best Blue Dragon finish since winning the regional in 2010.
Creating depth at all positions was clearly a focal point in the off-season for the Blue Dragon coaches.
"We have depth and quality depth," Schmidt said. "The league has evolved so much that the development is getting better. Kids are coming in bigger and stronger and they are developing better."
Sophomore right-hander Miguel Reyes will draw the opening-day start for the Blue Dragons on Saturday at Coffeyville. In 13 starts and 15 overall appearances, Reyes was 8-3 for the Blue Dragons with a 4.64 earned-run average. He struck out 59 in 66 innings and opponents hit .267 against Reyes.
Freshman right-hander L.J. McDonough earns the Game 2 start on Saturday against the Red Ravens.
"There are a lot of guys vying for the rotational spots," said Schmidt, whose 2018 staff had a .576 ERA and a .280 batting average against. "Miguel has a lot of experience from last year and he came through in some big spots last year. L.J. is a very talented kid who has a chance to do a lot of special things. There will be a big fight for the remaining spots."
Sophomore Mike Brown was 5-4 with a 4.92 ERA last season in 12 starts. Some others that Schmidt will look at early in the season are left-handed freshman Jake Bunz and Louisiana Tech transfer Matt Delcambre.
Dylan Nedved, who will normally patrol the infield at shortstop, is slated to be the closer. The versatile Nedved made 15 appearances, including four starters, last season. He had three saves with a 5-1 record and a 4.36 ERA.
"We have a lot of guys this year who have a chance to grow and develop. We are going to need those guys because our midweek games are taxing this year. They are going to have to pitch and pitch at a high level."
Missouri State transfer Max McGuire will be in charge of receiving the Blue Dragon pitchers this season. McGuire saw limited playing time with the Bears last season, seeing action in only three games.
Nedved is the leading returning hitter from last season after he had 80 total hits and a batting average of .357 with 19 doubles, five home runs and 34 RBIs. Sartori had a .440 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter. Sartori hit .348 with 78 hits, 23 doubles, nine home runs and 56 RBIs. He also stole 15 bases.
Baxley develops into one of the league's top defensive first basemen and offensively was solid with a .342 average, six homers and 34 driven in. Moritz hit .290 with two home runs and 28 RBIs.
"It's nice to bring back all this experience in the infield," Schmidt said. "These guys bring a time of experience, a ton of at-bats and a ton of leadership because they are all invested in this program.
"Our infield is as strong as it can be to defend at a high level and hit at a high level."
Metzger battled through nagging injuries in his freshman season, but is healthy heading into 2019. Metzger hit .278 with five home runs and 24 RBIs last season.
Playing in 44 games (40 starts), Bowlin hit .314 with two homers and 30 RBIs.
Freshman Jeremiah Ceasar is the projected starting center fielder.
"Nothing is set in stone with the starters and a lot of other guys are going to get a chance to win a starting job. Schmidt said.
The Blue Dragons will open at home this Friday against Highland and on Saturday and Sunday against Indian Hills at Hobart-Detter Field.