A new era in Calvary Lutheran baseball starts when the Lions take their home field at 4:30 p.m. today for their season opener against the Van-Far Indians.
After serving as an assistant for two years, Austin Galbraith is now at the helm of the Calvary Lutheran baseball program to fill in the void longtime coach Rusty Bourg left when he retired at the end of last spring’s season.
“It’s been pretty easy,” Galbraith said of his transition to head coach. “The transition has been pretty nice because some of the older players have helped out with the younger players.”
The Lions bring a young roster into the season of two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and four freshman.
After losing seniors Jonathan Lieb and Alex Proctor last season, these young players are going to be asked to play big roles.
“We lack a lot of experience because anytime you graduate two seniors like we had last year and you have a lot of young guys that have to step up and play, it is kind of a challenge,” Galbraith said. “The young guys have really stepped up, though, and I think we are going to be OK.”
Calvary Lutheran’s two seniors this year, Matthew Johnson -- who is committed to play college baseball at Central Methodist -- and Carter Hunget, will be asked to step into big leadership roles.
Johnson was not able to play last season do to an ankle injury and this will be Hunget’s first year on the team.
“Both of those guys have done an extremely good job,” Galbraith said. “They lead on the field, they lead off the field and guys seem to look up to them.”
Taking over the role as the No. 1 pitcher will be Jesse Jorgensen.
Ben Hardin will be the No. 2 pitcher and Hunget will man the third spot in the rotation.
“They are throwing the best I have seen them in their high-school careers,” Galbraith said. “We may not have the Jonathan Lieb or Alex Proctor, but we are going to have to fill that void with a committee of pitchers and I think we can do that.”
Around the infield expect Hardin at catcher, Cody Kollmeyer at first base, Matthew Yutzy at second base, Carter Brooks at short when Jorgensen is pitching and Joseph Buyum at third
In the outfield, Johnson will man center field, Hunget will play in left field and Clayton Groll will slot in right field.
Calvary Lutheran will be looking to gain experience for its young players early in the season.
“We are really, really young and we don’t have a lot of experience coming back,” Galbraith said. “So my thing is we just have to focus on the process and not let the results get in the way. We need to make sure we are doing the things that are going to get us to be a good team instead of just worrying about wins and losses.”
This process started in the fall season for the Lions, as the young players got a chance to see what varsity level baseball looks and feels like.
“We gained some experience and we had a lot of highlights as a team from the fall,” Galbraith said. “We started off hitting like .213 and we finished at .278. We stole a bunch of bases in the fall, so our baserunning did really well.”
Notable games on the Calvary Lutheran schedule include the Calvary Lutheran Tournament on April 14-15, playing April 20 at St. Elizabeth and hosting Versailles on May 2.