GHS baseball squad gets ready for 2019 season
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Grayling High School’s 2019 varsity baseball team – a squad that recently started its official practice sessions for the upcoming season – will have a new coach and a group of players that is young and somewhat lacking in varsity experience.
Nate Maury, the new coach for the program, said this year’s roster includes six seniors (three returning starters), five juniors, and two sophomores. Maury coached the junior varsity baseball team at Grayling High School last year.
The Vikings started their official practices for the 2019 spring season on Monday, March 11, and their first doubleheader is slated for April 4, “tentatively, depending on weather.”
It is uncertain when the squad will be able to play its first game, or when the team might get outside for practices.
“Hopefully we can at least get out on the field after spring break,” Coach Maury said.
Grayling High School started its spring break on Friday, March 22, and students return to class the first week of April.
The Vikings finished the 2018 season with an overall record of 22-5-2. The squad lost most of its starters to graduation, but Coach Maury said the team has a goal to surpass the 20-win mark again this season.
“I’m excited. It’s a good group of kids,” Coach Maury said.
“We did lose quite a bit last year. Definitely a hit,” Coach Maury said.
Maury said he expects seniors Justin Youngblood and Nick Cicerone to anchor the pitching rotation. He described Youngblood as a “top two pitcher in the Lake Michigan Conference” and he said Cicerone is a “hard throwing lefty.” He expects senior Ryan Anderson to provide some quality innings, and he said junior Sterling Shazri “has a really good fastball.”
Coach Maury said pitching and fielding will be a focus of the team during its early practice sessions.
“What we really need to work on is pitching. Besides fielding, that’s going to be key,” Coach Maury said. “The kids are going to have to step up and play somewhere where they’re not used to.”
Coach Maury said another challenge will be replacing the top of the order and middle of the order hitters after losing several fixtures in the line-up to graduation.
“We’ve got to replace the middle of the batting line-up. It will be different, but I trust the kids can do it,” Coach Maury said.
Coach Maury said the squad’s biggest strength right now is “probably going to be our fielding, especially the left side,” and the team is “keying in on not making too many errors, not making mental mistakes in the field.”
Maury said Bret Krabill, former coach of the program, “did a great job” and he’s looking to “continue” with what’s in place.
Coach Maury said the first week of practice went well. They worked on “fielding, having soft hands,” and they changed the conditioning to be “more skill oriented.”
“The kids are starting to buy in,” Coach Maury said.
The varsity baseball team’s season opener is slated for Thursday, April 4, at 4 p.m. at West Branch Ogemaw Heights. The Vikings are slated to play at Harrison on Monday, April 8, at 4 p.m. Grayling also has road doubleheaders scheduled for April 11 at Farwell and April 15 at Roscommon.
The baseball squad’s 2019 home opener is slated for Wednesday, April 17, vs. Beaverton.