Brown County’s baseball team is keeping 16 players — six of them seniors — and gaining 12 new freshmen.
“I’m really, really happy with the way things are starting,” Head Coach Kyle Heminger said.
“We have 28 kids on the roster, and all 28 get along. They work hard, and they’re excited to be out here.”
With the interest shown this season, there were more cuts at tryouts this year than last, Heminger said. “But I think that’s a step in the right direction, for the program.”
“The work ethic and the fundamentals are at a level that we haven’t seen, across the board,” Heminger said.
“We’ve always had those handful of really good players, but I think we’ve got a good chance to make a really good run this year.”
The condition of the team is no lucky break. Players and coaches have been practicing since last season ended, working through the summer and meeting at open gym through the winter.
Some freshmen began working with the team last summer.
“It was good, coming out, getting to know the upperclassmen, like Tanner (Hamm) and other guys like that — just team chemistry and getting us all together out here,” JT Parry said.
The freshmen have impressed teammates and coaches with their talent.
“I think the crop coming up is pretty good,” said Hamm, a senior. “I think they’ll have a shot once they get up to seniors.”
The coach agreed.
“If we can keep these 12 freshmen together and build through that with a strong eighth-grade group that’s coming in too, we’ve got a really bright future here,” Heminger said.
For now, most of the freshmen will be on the junior varsity team, Heminger said. But that’s not to say they might not see some varsity field time.
“Our season — like all high school baseball — is brutal. You play a lot of games, and quick,” Heminger said. “I’m confident that the younger kids could step in and fill a role if needed.”
Even next year’s freshmen are already showing interest in working with the team, Heminger said.
The program’s reputation is a lot of what is drawing in the younger players, he said.
“It’s just a very positive and exciting environment for everybody, and everybody works hard. And we call ourselves a family,” Heminger said. “A lot of people want to be part of that.”
The three paid and three volunteer coaches — as well as the players — are patient and ready to work with the new players, Heminger said.
“Our thinking is, if you’re athletic, and you want to work hard, we can make you a baseball player,” Heminger said.
For the seniors, there is added pressure in playing a spring sport, Heminger said. All six are juggling the stress and demands of the final months of high school.
“It’s exciting to know that you have six seniors that are going to go on to college, but yet, they’re giving it one last shot,” Heminger said. “And right now, the work ethic and enthusiasm is extremely high, and that’s exciting.”
Do the seniors have anything to prove in their last year of high school ball?
“Of my last four years, this’d be the one I’d pick to have a pretty good year at,” Hamm said.