ROCHELLE — The Hubs will be counting on leadership and production from their three returning senior players when Rochelle’s baseball team opens the 2020 season with a road game against Genoa-Kingston on March 17.
Seniors Gavin Ansteth, Ethan Etes and Austin Greifenkamp will carry the big sticks in the Rochelle batting order this season, and all three players will be asked to step up behind the plate and in the field. The Hubs, now members of the Interstate 8 Conference, are looking to remain competitive after finishing 16-9 this past season.
“It’s always interesting to see who we have and how much the kids have improved,” head coach Jarrod Reynolds said. “It’s essential that our seniors are good leaders and set a good example for the rest of the group. If our seniors are doing what they need to do, that sets the tone for our program over the next few years. We need them to have some important at-bats for us and fill some important positions around the field.”
Ansteth returns as Rochelle’s top hitter after batting .378 with three homers and 23 RBIs during the 2019 season. Pitching will be an area the Hubs need to develop, however, as the team lost six senior hurlers this past year including top-3 starters Johnny Beck, Brandon Johnson and Cody Johnson. Juniors Evan Meyers and Mark Hopkins earned limited varsity reps last season.
“Everybody will have to pitch for us,” Reynolds said. “We have a lot of games at the start of the season and we’ll need to depend on everybody. There are some unknowns right now, but I think that’s exciting because we’re going to see who can step up and fill those roles.”
Juniors Kyler Lara and Sam Hacaga are two more players to keep an eye on when the Hubs take the field this season. As the spring unfolds, Reynolds said he’s optimistic that the unknowns currently looming over the team will shake themselves out.
“We only have two returning starters,” Reynolds said. “Our spots are open to the kids who play well and practice well. The spots are there for the taking.”