Troy baseball ‘bar’ remains high with young team

TROY — As always, the bar is set high for Troy baseball.

And coach Ty Welker says the expectations won’t be any lower this season.

It is just that it is a little different situation after spring sports were postponed last spring and the Trojans have few players on the roster that have played varsity baseball.

“The bar is always high here at Troy,” Welker said. “And these kids come in basically with no bar, because they haven’t played high school baseball except for a few kids. They played on summer teams last summer. We will be a better team (as they gain experience). But, we are still going out there to win.

“That is going to be our goal, starting on March 29. To win.”

But, the roster has a little different look.

“We have seven sophomores and a freshman,” Welker said. “That is not typical for us. We might typically have one or two sophomores. We are a very young team.”

But, he has all the confidence in the world in his team.

“I could not have asked for a better team,” Welker said. “They are the best team you could ask for as far as buying in. We haven’t had to sell them anything. They have all bought in. This is a really close-knit group. When we are in the weight room or whatever we are doing, they all get along really well.”

Seniors Nick Prouty, Nick Garber and Ethan Rekow will all be part of the starting rotation.

“We have two lefthanders, which is a good thing,” Welker said.

Sophomores Trayce Mercer, Andrew Helman and Brian Allen will also be part of the starting rotation.

“We don’t have a lot of experience,” Welker said. “That is probably leading to some sleepless nights for coach Murray (pitching coach Heath Murray). Ten of the 15 guys on our roster can pitch. It is probably the most depth we have had, but not much experience.”

Senior Eli Otten and sophomore Owen Harlamert are battling for the catching position.

“Eli (Otten) has the experience and does a good job behind the plate,” Welker said. “Owen (Harlamert) swings a big bat.”

Prouty, a 6-foot-7 senior, will handle the duties at first base

Welker feels like he has three strong infielders in senior Caleb Fogarty, sophomore Connor Hutchinson and freshman Ryder Kirtley.

Sophomores Helman and Eli Smith could also be in the mix at third base.

“Ryder (Kirtley) and Connor (Hutchinson) I would consider two of the best shortstops I have had here,” Welker said. “They will probably both play at second base and shortstop. It is unsual for us to have a freshman starting in the infield, which says a lot for Ryder (Kirtley). I would consider Caleb Fogarty one of the top three shortstops I have had here as well. It just so happens, I think he is our best third baseman.”

The outfield is where there are some unknowns.

Senior Baylee Shepherd will lead the outfielders.

“Baylee (Shepherd) is the one guy who has played in the outfield,” Welker said. ‘The rest of them are guys we have made outfielders.”

Sophomore Nick Kawecki and Garber and Rekow are possibilities in centerfield.

“They all have speed and can cover a lot of ground,” Welker said. “Nick (Kaweki) is a guy who played football and is real athletic.”

Those who could see action in rightfield include Mercer, Allen and Smith.

“In rightfield, is probably where we are going to play a bat,” Welker said. “We need to have them in the lineup somewhere.”

Junior Tim Malott is a valuable member of the roster and has a lot of versatility.

“I told Tim (Malott), you may not be starting, buy you are going to play one of the most important roles,” Welker said. “Because, when he comes in, he will be either pitching to get us out of an inning or on defense somewhere like second base, where we need him.”

Troy will open the season March 29 by hosting Greenville and while this is the first year for MVL baseball — because of last season being postponed — the opposition won’t be new. They were all in the same division in the GWOC for years.

“This was always going to be a strong group for Vandalia, whether we had baseball last season or not,” Welker said. “Tippecanoe is always going to be strong with coach (Bruce) Cahill.

“Piqua and Greenville are scrappy and are always tough games. I think they both have some strong players. We feel like we can compete with any of them. There are a lot of questions, but they are all good questions.”

And with Welker at the helm, the bar will remain high for Troy baseball.