Saying goodbye to 18 seniors last year means that Friends coach Derek Leppert is saying hello to a lot of new faces this season.
Usually those type of huge losses mean a big headache for coaches. But Leppert sees a light at the end of the tunnel.
"This is my fourth season at Friends, and this is the best chemistry I've had. I believe in playing a tough schedule. We will be competitive in the KCAC,'' Leppert said.
"We have better than average speed, and we'll try to get runs by stealing and bunting,'' he said.
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Leppert is happy to be playing at West Side Athletic Field this season.
"That park fits our game and is closer for us.''
The four pitching starters are Joshua Tucker, Nicholas Wilczynski, Mike Lewis and Kirk Kelly. Tucker, Wilczynski and Lewis were relievers last season. Kelly is a transfer from Hesston College.
Sophomore Brock Vizner from Maize will close; and Kevin Johnson, Jake DeMott (Clearwater) and Zach Glover (Remington) will be relievers.
Jordan Miller will be the first baseman, and Taylor Doan will be at short. At third is Matt Jacobs of Bishop Carroll. Miller started in left field last season.
Chance Kennedy and Ryan Tarletsky will play second base.
Cameron Sell, an outfielder last season, will catch along with Kennedy and Garrett Berry.
Greg Collins will play centerfield, and T.J. Lawless will be in right. Evan Gilbert, Jesse Jerde and Casey Schweininger will spend time in left.
Today — at Southern Nazarene. Saturday — Morningside, Iowa, 1 p.m. Sunday — Morningside, 1 p.m.
2 — at USAO (Chickasha, Okla.), 1 p.m. 13 — Doane (Neb.), 1 p.m. 16 — at Northwood (Dallas), 1 p.m. 17 — at Southern Nazarene, 1 p.m. 20 — Sioux Falls, 1 p.m. 21 — Sioux Falls, 1 p.m. 26 — Ottawa, 1 p.m. 27 — at Ottawa, 1 p.m. 30 — USAO, 1 p.m.
2 — at KWU, 1 p.m. 3 — KWU, 1 p.m. 9 — Bethany, 5 p.m. 10 — at Bethany, 3 p.m. 15 — Sterling, 4 p.m. 17 — at Sterling, 1 p.m. 23 — at St. Mary's, 1 p.m. 24 — St. Mary's, 1 p.m. 29 — at Tabor, 2 p.m.
1 — Tabor, 1 p.m. 5 — KCAC tournament.
Newman start times moved up — The Newman basketball games against Texas-Permian Basin on Saturday have been moved up an hour to accommodate the university's Cardinal Newman Week activities.
Saturday's women's game will begin at 1 p.m., with the men's game starting at 3 p.m. or 20 minutes following the conclusion of the women's game.