Two-time defending Muller champs from Lapel headline local baseball scene

Mar. 25—While no area teams could claim sectional titles, 2023 still proved to be a historic baseball season in the THB Sports area.

Lapel won its second straight Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament championship behind the area's player of the year, Owen Imel. This season, the Bulldogs seek what no team has been able to accomplish in the tournament's history by taking the crown a third straight time.

No teams won sectional titles last season, but talented teams including Daleville, Lapel, Pendleton Heights and Shenandoah are among those striving to break through this spring.

Here is a glance at area baseball teams — four of which will be led by first-year coaches — ahead of the season which starts this week:


Coach: Jeff Closser (19th season); 2023: 11-18; Key losses: Braxton Pratt, Jay Dillmon; Key returning players: Carson Cuneo, Collin Johns, Gabe McGuire, Abram May, Aaron Mathews, Kaed Abshire; Newcomers to watch: Will Rowland, Mason Fuller

Outlook: "Our goals would (be) to always compete and represent our school, community and program to the best of our ability and get better every time we step between the white lines," Closser said.


Coach: Jamie Roudebush (1st season); 2023: 12-18; Key losses: Drew Baker, Kairo Parks; Key returning players: Dontrez Fuller, Carter Hunt, Jaxon Milburn, Kaydin Hutchison; Newcomers to watch: Ke'Avon Burt, Kadyn Kendall, Hunter Anderson, Cole Roberts, Xavier Terrell; Potential breakout: Hunt, Milburn

Outlook: "It's a group that will be young and will lack experience," Roudebush said. "I'm sure we will have many ups and downs as you do with a young team, but it's also a group that has bought in to our more intense offseason program with conditioning and weight lifting. We are very excited to get the season started with this group."


Coach: Raymond Schaaf (1st season); 2023: 2-14; Key losses: Ben Scott, Kenley McConnell; Key returning players: James Hornocker, Julian Tyler, Breydon Ball; Newcomers to watch: Christian Moore, Teagan Baker, Lincoln Fathauer; Potential breakout: Ball

Outlook: "We are expecting to see growth in our team (as) our kids start to put things together this year," Schaaf said. "We're looking to put together one of the best seasons in school history. We're seeking to build a culture of leadership, accountability and tenacity. It will be an interesting mix this year, as we have 10 upperclassmen and 8 freshmen, along with two sophomores. We expect to surprise some people this year. Our seniors are also wanting to leave our program this year in a solid place moving forward, and that can happen. But we're excited for this year first and seeing these kids become solid ballplayers."


Coach: Robert Wilson (2nd season); 2023: 12-10; Key loss: Zion Bricker; Key returning players: Meryck Adams, Ethan Colvin, Noah Colvin, Josh Wilson, Ayden Ramirez, Logan Leech Caleb Aikin, Bryson Sigler; Newcomer to watch: Carson Tighe; Potential breakout: Aikin, Wilson, Noah Colvin, Sigler, Ramirez

Outlook: "An experienced group with a chip on their shoulders will take the field for the Daleville Broncos this spring," Coach Wilson said. "After a heartbreaking extra-innings loss in the Sectional 55 championship a year ago, this group is working for the opportunity for another chance to get over that hump."


Coach: Grant Sailors (2nd season); 2023: 3-23; Key loss: Logan Lane; Key returning players: Luke Jones, Xavier Davenport, Owen Huff, Isaac Casas, Jackson Blackford, Bracken Jetty; Newcomers to watch: A.J. Flanagan, Brice Shuler; Potential breakout: Brylen Mort

Outlook: "This season we are looking to build off the last game of the 2023 season," Sailors said. "We have some new players in some new roles but return seven of our nine starters with five of them being seniors. Some of the young kids will step into big roles, but I don't think it's anything they can't handle. (The coaches) are definitely looking forward to the new look 2024 Elwood Panthers."


Coach: Caleb Maddox (1st season); 2023: 13-14; Key losses: Bradyn Douglas, Tyler Bates; Key returning players: Nate Moore, Wyatt Smith, Max Barr, Sam Barr, Jarrett Morris, Riley Inglis, Brady Carmack; Newcomers to watch: Joe Hendrick, Caine Oakley, Mason Jones, Nate Luzadder, Caden Jones, Shaun Jarrett, Jaden Clem; Potential breakout: Oakley

Outlook: "After losing multiple key players to graduation after last season, we look to a strong group of returning players to play major roles this season," Maddox said. "We have a talented group of sophomores and incoming freshmen who we expect to see varsity action early on and throughout the season. Our success this season will rely on our ability to play clean baseball as a young team. We can expect to hit some bumps along the way, but our guys are prepared for that."


Coach: Matt Campbell (9th season); 2023: 22-7; Key losses: Quentin Roberts, Owen Imel, Isaac Bair; Key returning players: Talan Jarrett, Camden Novak, Kai Newman, Cody Baker, Rylie Hudson, Landon Brown, Darl Gustin; Newcomers to watch: Eli Suchocki, Jaxson Cripe; Potential breakout: Suchocki, Cripe

Outlook: "With hopes that pitchers will continue to throw strikes like they did last year, we are focused on getting over the sectional woes that have haunted us in years past," Campbell said. "Lots of leadership and mentoring left with the graduating class of '23, and it will be exciting to watch the work they had put in and the lessons they taught younger players carry over to this season."


Coach: Tab Greenlee (4th season); 2023: 4-19; Key losses: Aaron Woodyard, Dominic Thurman; Key returning players: Josh Goodman, Elvin Acree, Carter Wicker, Riddick Allison, Zane Hoffman, Makaki Castor, Josiah Thurman, Luke Woodyard, Zach Greenlee; Newcomers to watch: Adrian Groover, Calyb Greenlee; Potential breakout: Wicker

Outlook: "Our culture has been established, and with our young guys having a year under their belt, we are excited to take it to the next level as a team," Coach Greenlee said. "Our goals are simple: Win fundamentally, win academically, win mentally, win sectional."


Coach: John Walters (1st season); 2023: 17-13; Key losses: Maddox Beckley, Jase Howell, Andrew Richards, Braiden Ross, Gavin Kelich, Ty Evans, Maverick Miller; Key returning players: Teagan Yeagy, Lucas Humphries, Max Franklin, Xavier Yeagy, Luke Gilman, Levi Nelson, Chad Lamb, Tripp Haisley; Newcomers to watch: Brock Barnhart, Harry Brooks; Potential breakout: Haisley, Nelson

Outlook: "In the 2021 season, these seniors were freshman and won the (Muller) tournament, CIC co-conference champions and 2A Sectional 39 champions," Walters said. "With the new coaching staff, strong returning nucleus of championship multi-sport athletes and very encouraging freshman and sophomore players, it's a great time to be an Argyll. This is a very strong, passionate and supportive baseball community, and it's our job to execute our game plan while playing the game with passion, respect and positive energy all season. We have to be willing to battle through adversity, stay in the fight and stay true to our system."


Coach: Matt Vosburgh (5th season); 2023: 13-14; Key losses: Nate Gilmet, Ricky Howell, Spencer Leppink; Key returning players: Ty Frakes, Jordan Williamson, Colton Frank, Jameson Walford; Newcomers to watch: Rylan Keesling; Potential breakout: Brayden Stevenson

Outlook: "The Arabians will be young, returning only a handful of players with significant varsity experience," Vosburgh said. "Regardless, the pieces are there to compete in every game. The Arabians have a strong contingency of skilled and athletic players that love baseball. The goals of Pendleton Heights baseball never change. Yhey expect to compete for county, conference and sectional championships."


Coach: Ryan Painter (5th season); 2023: 22-4, MEC champions; Key losses: Dylan McDaniel, Carson Brookbank, Jobe Robinson, Gabe Lowder, Gavin Wilson, Jarrett Helman (injury); Key returning players: Ethan Loy, Collin Osenbaugh, Drew Fredenburg; Newcomers to watch: Harrison Jessup, Brandan Conyers, Ezra Byrd, Ashton Renz, Maddux Davis, Ethan Taylor Maddux; Potential breakout: Fredenburg

Outlook: "It's no secret that we will miss the 2023 graduating class, but the 2024 group learned from those seniors," Painter said. "Most of our roster was in the dugout for our loss in the sectional championship to Hagerstown, and that's been enough motivation to push them the past year. Our roster is versatile as many players can play multiple positions. We look to defend our MEC championship, and our other competitive goals include a Henry County championship as well as advancing in the state tournament."

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.