LOCAL SPORTS

Expectations are high at Northwestern this season for their baseball team. Not only did they finish runner-up in the conference last year, they return enough experienced players to make a run for the top this season.

The Warriors open their season this week in Myrtle Beach at a spring break tournament which will see them play five games, and coach Todd Houseman is ready to see what the guys can do.

“It has been exciting so far, the kids are working hard,” Houseman said last week. “The kids have been going hard at it since November, lifting three times a week and open cages.”

“We have had a good turnout for that, the kids are excited. We have a good group of seniors and they are committed to a good season. They are ready to get going.”

With their successful finishes in the past, Houseman feels now could be the time for a run at the title.

“We have eight returning varsity players, and we have talked about it the last two years,” he said. “We thought we had a chance last year and let a few games slip away. With our seniors back and good underclassmen, we hope to exceed what we did in the past. We think we will have a good year.”

They have been at it now for a couple of weeks, and Houseman has liked what he has seen so far.

“The pitching has been really good so far, live in the cage,” he said. “We need to hit the ball, the last couple of years we have good pitching but have struggled at the plate. Not one guy hit .300 last year and we only finished one game back.”

“We played really good defense and pitching kept us in the games. A lot of guys back are travel ball guys playing all summer long and working on hitting.”

Seven seniors will be the leaders for the Warriors, including their top pitcher Gage Vorhees, who will also play second base.

“He has been our number one pitcher for the past few years, and was all conference last season,” Houseman said. “When he is on the mound, it is very seldom does not go the complete game. He keeps us in the ballgame.”

Evan Crew is another three-year starter who plays first base and can pitch.

“He has played well the past two years, and he will pitch in our league games,” Houseman said.
He is a good leftie and will also hit fourth for us in the lineup.”

Senior Christian Highfield returns and will handle the catching duties.

“We lost our catcher from the last three years, and we have some young good catchers but I didn’t feel they were ready to come up with what I have coming back,” Houseman said. “Christian is a good athlete and took it upon himself to become a solid catcher.”

Four other seniors will be a factor this season including Noah Brown, who will be the leadoff hitter and CF, DH Jake Parks, Jake Lees and Brendon Hartsell.

Junior Evan Nofkee will play his first year of baseball, after missing last year with an injury. He will be the Warriors starting shortstop.

Several sophomores will be counted on, including Gavin Thomas, who a great utility player as a freshman, and can play different positions. Dane Sowards is another sophomore who started JV last year and eight games in, moved up to varsity. He started at third base every game after that.

Jansen Jenkins is a sophomore who played JV last year, and is a good athlete who can play either multiple positions.

The lone freshman is Ben Van Noord who will play the outfield.

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