FLINTON — With no letterwinners returning from its 7-11 season last year, the Glendale baseball team finds itself in a unique position.
The Vikings have just 11 players on the roster this season with six of those being freshmen.
The challenge will be even bigger with schools being closed because of the coronavirus until at least April 9, giving Glendale head coach Ray Berger even less time to work with his young team.
“It going to be a challenging season with the coaches and players well aware of this and are ready to take on the challenge set in front of us,” he said. “With a very young team it gives me confidence that what they learn and see from this season will make them stronger, more determined to win, and heighten their leader skills for future players while playing their remaining years playing at the varsity.”
The Vikings have just one junior on the team in Jacob Holes. He is joined by sophomores Mike Gregg, Zene Kotts, Tyler Niebauer and Gunner Nevling.
Freshmen Jacob Berger, Mason Peterman, Tannor Holes, Britton Spangle and Logan Ruffaner round out the squad.
While there are no freshmen or letterwinners to take the lead, Berger said that leadership has come from an unlikely place.
“A few of the freshman have stepped up to take on the role of leadership of the team, which is very encouraging too see and watch how the other players react to their leadership,” he said.
The starting lineup is yet to be decided, especially with a smaller squad and will most likely depend on who is pitching and what lineup seems to be the best fit.
“I’ll be honest I have not decided on a starting lineup at this point, it looking like that will be a game day decision for each game until I find a lineup that I can stay with for the rest of the season,” he said.
There is also the fact that with just 11 kids, there are bound to be those playing new positions.
“Biggest thing I have been working on is getting players comfortable in positions they have not or have limited play at since with the lack of depth players are going to more than likely be in positions they have not or limited play at,” Berger said.
“All I basically have been doing is constantly try to praise them for their ability to play the game and instill confidence in them that they can compete with anybody.”
Still depth will be the biggest concern.
“Lack of depth is going to be a major issue this season at all positions but constantly observing how players react in different positions and situations is helping to strategize,” said Berger.
Pitching will also be a hard position for the Vikings. Right now, Peterman, Spangle, Tannor Holes, Knotts and Jacob Holes will see innings.
So far, Berger said he is impressed with the enthusiasm and the teamwork the boys have put in.
“They are encouraging each other and praising one another for good plays at practice,” he said.
Berger said the goals for this year are to play with confidence, have fun and learn from the experience.
Berger is being assisted by Tyler Holes.
Glendale was to open last Friday at Mount Union.
The next game after the shutdown would be on April 9, hosting Moshannon Valley.
Mike Gregg, Zene Kotts, Gunner Nevling, Tyler Niebauer.
Jacob Berger, Mason Peterman, Tannor Holes, Josh O’Shell, Logan Ruffaner, Britton Spangle.
20—at Mount Union. 26—West Branch. 31—at Williamsburg.
2—Claysburg-Kimmel. 3—at Juniata Valley. 7—at Bellwood-Antis. 9—Moshannon Valley. 13—Curwensville. 14—Mount Union. 15—Harmony. 16—Juniata Valley. 20—at Cambria Heights. 21—at West Branch. 22—Williamsburg. 28—at Claysburg-Kimmel. 30—Bellwood-Antis.
5—at Moshannon Valley. 6—at Harmony.
All games begin at 4:30 p.m. unless noted.