McPherson High’s baseball team hopes to carry over its summer success to the spring.
The Bullpups make their 2015 debut Thursday at traditionally strong Augusta, with the first pitch being thrown at 4 p.m.
It’s also the debut of MHS coach Heath Gerstner, who formerly coached at Junction City where he guided the Bluejays to the Class 6A Tournament. He arrived during the summer in time to see McPherson win the Class A American Legion State Tournament, losing its first game before roaring back through the loser’s bracket in dramatic fashion to capture the championship.
Gerstner put his team through a seven-inning scrimmage on Saturday and liked what he saw. He has a deep pitching staff and isn’t afraid to send any of his several pitchers to the mound.
Caleb Schmidt has been tapped as the opening-game starter.
“We believe if he is commanding all three of his pitches that we should compete in all games,” Gerstner said.
Micah McCulley is the likely Game 2 starter.
Both pitchers will be throwing to Cody Starkel, who is expected to take his place among the elite catchers in Class 4A Division I this year. The 6-5 Starkel has a gun for an arm and already has displayed his bat with a booming homer in the scrimmage on Saturday.
Augusta has joined AVCTL Division III this year and has proven to be worthy in several sports and nothing figures to change for baseball, as the Orioles have had some solid teams in the past.
“Augusta has a reputation of being a very good baseball program,” Gerstner said. “I have not seen them play, but through discussions with some friends, they play solid defense and normally pitch it very well. I have heard the last few years they have had state-caliber teams, so we are excited about the challenge in front of us.”
Gerstner, taking over a team that was 7-14 last year, has a simple philosophy for his team to adhere to.
“Our goal will be to play just one pitch a time,” he said. “We want to be aggressive offensively and work to keep balls in front of us and eliminate the big inning defensively.”
The Bullpups will perform before the home faithful next week at Grant Complex, hosting Mulvane on Monday and Rose Hill on Thursday.
More on the Bullpups can be found in the Mid Kansas Sports Magazine, which is expected to be available at Monday’s home opener. The magazine is free.