Seniors play key role for Jimmies
There aren't many freshmen and sophomores that see a lot of diamond time for the University of Jamestown baseball team.
A big reason for that is Tom Hager's team usually has a bumper crop of seniors, and this season is no different.
The 13 final-year players on the roster, which helped lead the Jimmies to the NAIA national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., have had varying roles, but the combined impact is significant. Last season, the Jimmies won 52 games. This year, they've notched 40 more heading into today's first-round game against Concordia, Neb.
"Those guys have played a big part in the success we've had the last couple of years," Hager said. "There's a lot of good baseball players in that group, but they've also represented our program the right way."
There will be big shoes to fill.
Landon Uetz is one of the best hitters in program history. Nico Kelly has been a stalwart in center field the last two years. The slugging Sablan twins (Alex and Vince) have done plenty of damage, despite injury issues.
On the mound, Brad Bennett and Logan Lund have been anchors in the starting rotation. Lance Kotter has filled a number of roles on the hill, while Cade Campbell and Brandon Radmacher add to the deep UJ staff.
Christian Shouman and Mark Kane have made big impacts in their final seasons. Shouman went 11-for-21 in the North Star Athletic Association tournament, pushing all-conference outfielder Taichi Sasaki into a bench role. Kane only got 79 at bats this season, but four of them ended in home-run trots.
Outfielder Matt Noll has seen more time of late and while ABs have been rare for Carson Parks, the California lefty can pick it at first base when needed.
"A lot of those guys have been playing some of their best baseball down the stretch when we really needed it," Hager said. "That's a pretty impressive legacy. This group will be remembered for that."