With the loss of several seniors from last year’s 20-win squad, the youth movement is in full effect for the Gibault Catholic High School baseball team.
And there are plenty of talented juniors and sophomores on the Hawks roster this spring, offering excitement for the future.
Gibault head coach Andy Skaer, now in his 14th season, is hopeful the future comes sooner than later, perhaps right around postseason time.
“Our goal is to continue getting better,” he said. “We tell the guys, ‘Get one percent better every day.’ By the end, we’ll have something rolling.”
Key returning players for the Hawks in 2018 include junior infielders Mark Branz and Austin Sweeney, sophomore catcher Josh Papenberg and sophomore first baseman/outfielder Tim Reinholz.
Branz hit .358 with 29 runs, 24 RBIs and 11 stolen bases last year. On the mound, he posted a 3-2 record and a 3.68 ERA.
Sweeney hit .361 with 23 RBIs last season and also threw some innings.
Papenberg provided solid defense behind the plate and hit .268 as a freshman.
Reinholz got his 2018 off to a bang by smashing a grand slam late in a March 14 loss to Valmeyer.
Junior pitcher Cam Kincheloe is expected to anchor Gibault’s pitching staff. He logged 40 innings on the mound last spring. Branz, Sweeney, Reinholz and Jacob Green will also be counted on for pitching duties.
Others expected to contribute this season are seniors Ethan Schilling and Logan Lannom, juniors Mason McFarland, Tripp Hasenstab, Josh Hugger, Will Janson and Ian Metcalf, and sophomores Will Simonton, Max Kostelac, Nick Weilbacher, Jacob Muehlher and Mitch Nolan.
“We’ve been going about our business the right way,” Skaer said. “We’ve been pretty focused in practice.”
Following a 9-4 loss to a strong Valmeyer squad, the Hawks split a Saturday doubleheader against Roxana and Jerseyville.
“A lot of our guys are young, so they don’t have any expectations,” Skaer said. “They’re all trying to win a job. I think offensively, we might struggle at the beginning of the year because we are young. Pitching-wise, I think we have some guys who can get outs.”
Key early games on Gibault’s schedule are April 2 at home against Marquette and April 6 against Columbia at GCS Ballpark.