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Plenty of Possibilities

You can never have enough pitching, but this season the Blue Jays appear to have plenty. All 10 players dressed are expected to see time on the mound for Kelley Kessler's team, which opens the season today at Williston against the Coyotes. Having...

The Blue Jays have a promising group of pitchers, including sophomore Ryder Lunzman. John M. Steiner / The Sun
The Blue Jays have a promising group of pitchers, including sophomore Ryder Lunzman. John M. Steiner / The Sun

You can never have enough pitching, but this season the Blue Jays appear to have plenty.

All 10 players dressed are expected to see time on the mound for Kelley Kessler's team, which opens the season today at Williston against the Coyotes. Having depth on the mound has been a point of emphasis in the youth levels in Jamestown, Kessler said. The JHS coach learned from his days as a high school pitcher that there's no such thing as having too many arms.

"I was overused ... and it's something personally that I was never going to do to a kid," Kessler said. "At the youngest level, we want kids to get on the mound and gain confidence so when they're needed they can step up and do it.

"Obviously, as the season goes on and we get closer to tournament time we'll kind of weed things out, but of the 10 guys on the varsity roster there's nobody that's not capable of being on the mound."

Senior Nolan Kratz, who was 6-3 last year and led the Jays in innings, will front the rotation. Kratz also will provide a big bat in the middle of the lineup.

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"He's definitely someone we're going to count on to lead the team," Kessler said. "He's a big thumper. He's turned his 270 pounds around a little to where he's a little more solid. He was already very capable, but his goal is to play college baseball and coaches told him about what that would take and he's done a good job of taking the challenge."

Fellow seniors Ben Friebel and Andrew Nohrenberg along with sophomore Ryder Lunzman also are established innings-eaters.

"We have a lot of pitching coming back, guys that threw quality innings last spring and last summer," Kessler said. "I think we have a lot of kids that are capable of going out there and doing a really good job for us."

The Jays are solid behind the plate, too. Friebel is back as the starting catcher. Freshman Tommy Falk also will see time.

Lunzman, senior Hunter Beckman, sophomore Dawson Douty and freshman Chris Erickson will see the majority of time at the infield spots. All played last season. Kratz can also play first and third.

Nohrenberg, senior Carter Weiser and Drew Murray, the only junior on the team, are ticketed for outfield spots.

The Blue Jays were right around the .500 mark most of last season before finishing 14-20, but with another year under their belts, Kessler is optimistic.

"We were picked eighth out of nine in the preseason coaches poll, but I see us being a lot more competitive than that," he said. "We're still a pretty young team, but we have a great group of kids to build on. We're excited about the season."

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