Chris Kubbs has been trotting out high school baseball teams to the diamond for a long time, but the Pleasant coach has probably never filled out such a young lineup card as the one he will use this spring.
Kubbs, who is 336-123 in 17 seasons at Pleasant and 418-155-2 in 22 overall campaigns, has only four letter winners back from last year’s team.
That squad was just 16-10 overall, but a late surge allowed it to win Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference Blue Division and Division III sectional championships. It also finished as a Central District runner-up.
“We have a young team that needs to develop,” Kubbs said. “We have a lot of inexperience and we are very young. But these young players love baseball.”
Kubbs’ letter winners are senior second baseman/pitcher Ryan Brewer, junior third baseman/pitcher Scott Foster, junior shortstop/pitcher Janik Tacket and sophomore centerfielder Kyle Galyk.
The speedy Galyk hit .354 last spring while Foster batted .316. Galyk led the team in runs batted in (33) and in doubles (7). Foster had a 2-3 pitching record with 20 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Tackett posted a 1-1 mound mark with one save and 27 strikeouts.
Losses to graduation were quite large. Rightfielder Reid Masters batted .366 to pace the club; designated hitter Ryan Snyder hit .356; and pitcher/catcher Adam Chidester was 9-3 with a 3.68 ERA. Also gone are second baseman Trevor Miller (.261), pitcher Eric Nielsen (2-1), third baseman Chayse Verity (.344), first baseman Eli Burris (.333), and shortstop/pitcher Nick Brewer (.345, 2-1).
Other key players for the Spartans this season will be senior pitcher Ryan Queen; sophomore catcher Anson James; junior pitcher/first baseman Tristen Knight; sophomore pitcher/third baseman Bryce McDonald; sophomore shortstop/second baseman Dustin Sites; and sophomore first baseman/pitcher Tyler Axline.
“Pitching will be a key for us,” Kubbs said. “With a young team, we need to keep improving each day. Our goals remain winning 20-plus games, winning the MOAC Blue Division, winning the district and making a run in the postseason tournament.”
Varsity assistant Bryan Decker takes over the head coaching duties for the Pleasant softball team which boasts a boatload of returning letter winners.
They are senior catcher Kara Kubbs, senior second baseman Emily Hulit, senior shortstop Kendell Queen, junior pitchers Bailee Mauk and Corinne Corbin, junior outfielder Bekkah Slob, and sophomore outfielder Abigail Russell.
A year ago, Kubbs was second-team All-MOAC, and she is the Pleasant single-season record holder for home runs with five.
Lost to graduation from a 2012 team which was 9-15 overall and 4-9 in the MOAC for third place in the Blue Division were shortstop Hannah Shaffer, second baseman Coral Triplett, leftfielder Lauren Ulsh, and infielder Ashley Ray. Shaffer was an MOAC first teamer last year while Triplett earned conference honorable-mention honors.
“We have to have good leadership from our returning players,” Decker said. “We have a couple of position changes, along with new varsity players in key positions. We need not dwell upon the disappointing record from last year, but be aware of it and not repeat it.”
Rich Nelson has a mixture of girls for his 17th season as Pleasant coach.
“We have a nice mix of a strong freshman group with good veteran runners,” Nelson said. “We want each athlete to achieve personal goals they set. We need leadership out of our older runners, and we need to avoid or limit injuries.”
Nelson’s returning letter winners are seniors Cassie Hosp (throws) and Kabretta Miller (hurdles, sprints); juniors Abbi Davis (throws), Kari Verity (mid distances, high jump) and Emily Ward (mid distances, sprints); and sophomores Boston Osborne (distances) and Kamryn Queen (sprints, mid distances).
Ward and Queen were members of last year’s MOAC-champion 4×200 team. Miller was a regional qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles.
Pleasant also has a large group of freshmen which won the Central Ohio Athletic League middle-school meet last season.
The Lady Spartans squad lost four-year letter winners Katey Holler and Lindsay Garvin to graduation. Holler was the MOAC track athlete of the year, a four-time MOAC high jump champ, and last year’s conference winner in the 100, 200, 4×200 and high jump. Garvin was MOAC champion with the 4×200, was third in the 300 hurdles, and fourth in the 100 hurdles.
A multitude of football players followed coach Aaron Cook to boys track this spring at Pleasant, boosting the numbers from the low teens to about 35.
Cook, the Spartans’ football coach, is in his first season as boys track coach. His team will be led by lettermen Drexler McColly, Zac Irons and Conner Gilpin.
McColly will run in the 400, 800 and 1600.
Irons will compete in the shot put and discus, and Gilpin is a pole vaulter.
First-year coach Lisa McDaniel inherits a team which features four letter winners.
Sophomore Christian Vaflor is back to man the number-one singles position. The other returnees are Cameron Osborne, Ian Kieffer and David Schuring.
“It looks as though they will provide some good matches, and I will need their leadership skills to get the others ready for match play,” McDaniel said.
“Our first couple of matches will show where we need to re-arrange players to make the team a tough opponent. Our group is coming together, and they are showing lots of energy and support. They are showing quickness, and their skills are coming around. Our main goal is to take each match one set at a time, stay focused, and improve.”