Injuries to a few of its key pitchers and position players last season provided some young baseball players from Columbus East with some college experience.
Olympians coach Jon Gratz hopes the experience will pay off this spring. East will be looking to bounce back from a 13-13-1 season after reaching the Class 4A state finals in 2019 and seeing the 2020 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had so many throwing injuries at the start of last year, we got a lot of experience from some guys,” Gratz said. “We need to be strong defensively and hopefully early on we can let our young pitchers settle in.”
Leading the Olympians on the mound will be seniors Ethan Ianni and Will Boyer. Ianni, who committed to Jackson College in Michigan, went 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA after missing the first half of the season with injury, while Boyer went 3-4 with a 4.17 ERA.
“These two have a lot of experience,” Gratz said. “Then we have quite a few other guys who are going to push for a while. We have guys who don’t have a lot of experience, but we have a lot of depth. We have a lot of guys I trust.
This group includes seniors Logan Christophel and Harry Major, juniors Parker Harris and Caleb Martoccia and sophomores Rolan Ryan and Blake Borkhardt.
Senior Alex McComb (12 RBIs) returns to catcher. Senior Tyler Bumbalough started last season at first base but was injured, and senior Josh Luedeke (.338, one HR, 12 RBI) played there the rest of the season. These two, as well as Borkhardt, got to see the action early on.
Senior Will Rieckers (.329, one HR, 13 RBI) is back at second base, and four-year-old starter Harry Major (.282, eight RBI) is back at shortstop. Ianni, Boyer and junior Chase Zapfe could play third base.
Senior Logan Christophel (.259) is back in center field. Seniors Ty Uphaus and Dylan Niese, along with Martoccia and Ryan, are battling for left and right field spots.
“We have a lot of guys fighting for spots right now,” Gratz said. “We have a lot of guys on our roster. We have a pretty good group of returning guys. Most of our infield is back. We have a pretty good group in the outfield, and our receiver is back, and that helps.
Gratz thinks East has a chance to be a good hitting team.
“I think we have really good bats,” Gratz said. “As a whole of our roster, we should be pretty strong this year.”
The Olympians are scheduled to face Martinsville at home on Thursday, weather permitting. East opens the regular season March 30 at Center Grove, and the home opener is April 7 against Hoosier Hills conference rival Seymour.
“I think our conference will be very difficult again,” Gratz said. “Jeffersonville is busy as usual. New Albany has the kid (Tucker) Biven who will likely be drafted, and Floyd Central is still good. I think Jennings County is going to surprise some people. There are some very good teams in our conference, so it will be a challenge as usual.
The Olympians lost five starters at the graduation ceremony. Four of them play college baseball, two of them at the Division I level.
Gratz said the key to his team’s success this season may lie in developing some of the young pitchers.
“I think it will come down to throwing,” Gratz said. “At the top we have a few guys who have proven themselves. If our more inexperienced pitchers can step in and do what I think they can do, we have a chance to be really good.
the 2022 Columbus East baseball program:
March 30 at Center Grove 5:30 pm
April 2 at anderson Tournament To be determined
April 5 at cathedral 5:30 pm
April 7 Seymour 5:30 pm
April 9 Floyd Central 11 a m
April 11 Greenfield Center 6 pm
April 13 Madison 5:30 pm
April 15 Jeffersonville 5:30 pm
April 18 at Edgewood 5:30 pm
April 19 at Money Stream 6 pm
April 23 at Jasper Invitational 11 a m
April 26 Bedford North Lawrence 5:30 pm
April 28 Jennings county 5 pm
April 30 at Bloomington South (DH) ten a m
May 2 at Southport 6 pm
May 4 at roncali 6 pm
May 6 at Columbus North 6 pm
May 9 HHC tournament vs. Jeffersonville 5:30 pm
May 11 HHC Tournament at To be determined 5:30 pm
May 13 HHC tournament placement round 5:30 pm
May 17 East Central 5:30 pm
May 18 at Bloomington North 6 pm
May 19 at franklin 5:30 pm
May 21 India Classic at North Central 11 a m