BELDING — The Belding Redskins baseball team is ready to begin the season. They just need the weather to cooperate.
Following a season with a near .500 record (16-17-1), the Redskins return eight letterwinners and plenty of expectations.
“We have very high expectations for our program,” Belding coach Michael Ostrander said. “We have shown steady improvement, but feel that now is the time to take the next step.”
Returning players include Tyler Strevel (P/SS), Todd Haller (1B/OF), Mitch MacMillen (IF), Kole Hart (P/OF), Tyler Daller (2B), Russ McDowell (1B/OF), Jacob Spencer (P/3B) and Neil McCully (C/OF).
Strevel just recently sign a letter-of-intent to play college baseball for Aquinas College.
“Our players love playing baseball for each other and for Belding,” Ostrander said. “We will be disappointed if we do not contend for a league and district title.”
To contend for any title in baseball a team needs pitching and pitching depth. Ostrander believes they have those two things, especially at the top of the rotation.
“Strevel and Spencer our No. 1 and No. 1A pitchers,” he said. “They have spent a considerable amount of time preparing in the offseason to have a great year on the mound.”
Hart, a junior, will be another pitcher Ostrander will be counting on. He is also an outstanding outfielder.
“Hart will be a key for us on the mound, in the outfield and on the base paths,” Ostrander said. “A year ago, as a sophomore, he only made one error, won four games as a starter and went 28-for-28 in stolen bases.”
Haller will provide power for the Redskins.
“Haller is probably our most powerful hitter. He believes he will hit the ball hard in every at-bat,” Ostrander said. “Daller and McCully will split catching duties. They will each pitch and play in the outfield, as well. The are great contact hitters.”
Chemistry will be a key for Belding this season, as well.
“Knowledge of the game is one of our team’s strong points, as is our team chemistry,” Ostrander said. “We will need to maintain focus this year. The season is a grind and we have to be ready every day.”
The Redskins will open a new stadium this year, which will be a welcome treat after playing home games at Demorest Field last year.
As for the O-K Blue Conference race, Ostrander said Comstock Park is the favorite.
“Beyond that, our conference has great depth,” he said. “Coopersville, Sparta and Allendale will be tough. Wyoming is a bit of a mystery, but I’m sure they will field a solid team.”
A couple of games have already been postponed this spring due to the weather. Belding’s next scheduled game is April 9 at Coopersville.