They say pitching wins championships in baseball, and Waterloo has plenty of experienced arms ready to shut down opposing offenses in 2014.
In fact, the Bulldogs have 13 total seniors on their roster from last year’s team that finished 24-11 and fell just short of winning a regional crown.
“The success of our team will start with pitching, no doubt,” said head coach Mark Vogel, now in his 22nd year at the helm of the Bulldogs. “We’re pretty deep in that department.”
Anchoring the starting rotation this season will be Jeremy Rettig and Austin Nunnery. Rettig compiled a 6-3 record last year with a 1.91 ERA and 47 strikeouts. Nunnery went 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA and 43 strikeouts.
Others expected to see starting mound duty for the ‘Dogs are Nathan Goodsell, Tyler Hebel and Austin Campbell, with lefty Corey Vogel and righty Creek Thorpe initially targeted for the bullpen in front of dynamic closer Devin Rice (7 saves, 0.95 ERA in 2013).
“Those are the guys we will turn to,” Vogel said.
Senior catcher Jonny Albers will be counted on to handle the pitching staff, Vogel said, and he is confident Albers is up to the task.
Key to the Bulldogs offense will be Goodsell (.381 average in 2013), third baseman Reid Hoffman (.326, 2 homeruns), second baseman Zach Schaab (.314) and outfielder Ryan Aycock (.273), who collected three hits in last year’s regional final loss to Mascoutah.
Sean O’Guin and Christian Schmidt are currently battling it out for shortstop duties, Vogel said, and both are expected to contribute to the success to the team on offense and defense.
Vogel said the Mississippi Valley Conference will be competitive, as always, with Mascoutah and Jerseyville expected to field very strong teams.
Triad lost a lot of seniors from last year’s successful campaign.
“And you can never count out Highland,” Vogel said.
In addition to the conference clashes, key games on Waterloo’s schedule include March 26 at home against Mt. Vernon, April 2 at home against Althoff and May 9 at Busch Stadium against Granite City.
“We’re pretty excited about this season,” Vogel said.
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