HARTINGTON — Summer baseball is back in Hartington and there should be plenty of action for fans to take in.
The American Legion seniors and juniors are ready to take the diamond by storm after last year’s inconsistent result.
The Senior Legion squad fell to 3-18, but they were a young team that battled a lot of injuries according to head coach Ryan Heimes.
With only three seniors, the experience the younger players endured should help them in 2022 after an early loss at the district tournament.
The Juniors finished 11-8 and lost to Wisner-Pilger-Howells Dodge in the final game at districts, one game short of the state tournament.
“The loss came with six errors to end the game, which hit the kids hard and made them hungry for this year,” Heimes said. “The juniors will have a few new kids from local towns because of a lack of interest in their town. I am curious what kind of level they will bring to the table, and how well they will mesh with the existing team.”
The seniors returns some key athletes including Carter Arens – “our only true senior returning,” Heimes said – after he battled injuries last summer.
“He was the starting first baseman, a tough out, and led by example,” Heimes said. “For the juniors, Keaton Steffen is the definition of putting your teeth in the dirt. He will do whatever needs to be done to get the job done. He’s a hustler all the way all around the field doesn’t care where he is playing as long as he is playing.
“Tyan Baller was a big stick for us a the end of the season and learned new positions to fill in when needed in the rotation.”
The Seniors have a tough schedule this year as they play a lot of teams tha have high school teams and will have a lot more experience going into the summer.
“We will have to do the little things right to compete at a high level,” Heimes said. “I do believe that we should go far in districts. We have a deep bullpen, and with the help of our new coach, who was a pitcher and learned a lot about pitching at Iowa Western (Aaron Steffen) and is always on the lookout for new techniques and drills.
“He has also been working with the infield to shore up the little flaws that kill teams.”
The Juniors should be brimming with talent this year according to Heimes.
“There are kids coming up from th younger ages with raw talent and kids from other towns coming over that are just as dangerous,” he said. “Our fielding needs to be tuned up a little bit, but our bats and ability to steal bases are off the charts.
“They will probably be high scoring games, but I think we will be the higher score.”
The teams open up the season 5:30/8 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 at South Sioux City.
The Senior roster: Carter Arens, Jaelen Lammers, Lukas Wortmann, Grant Arens, Brett Kleinschmit, Carson Arens, Jude Krie, Jaxson Bernecker, Lane Heimes, Keaton Steffen, Weston Heine, Tyan Baller, Dan Puppe and Grayden Hochstein .
The Junior roster: Keaton Steffen, Weston Heine, Tyan Baller, Dan Puppe, Grayden Hochstein, Kody Sudbeck, Cole Bensen, Cole Rosener, Matthew Loecker, Keyton Arens, Jaymison Cattau, Breiton Whitmire, Brayden Reifenrath and Dylan Taylor.
PONY LEAGUE The defending champions of the
The defending champions of the Quad County tournament, the Hartington PONY squad should have plenty of ammunition back this spring/summer under head coach Don Whitmire.
The team finished the 2021 season going 19-4 overall and will have its core back with some talented newcomers joining the squad.
Brady, Easton and Bodie Hochstein are three brothers who bring plenty of athleticism and a range of experience.
“They are good athletes and Easton is a left-handed pitcher which is always good to have on your roster,” Whitmire said. “They all play a lot of travel baseball and Bodie is our second shortstop behind Breiton Whitmire when he pitches.
“Hunter Bensen came up to our team. He also played on a travel team out of Wayne.”
Whitmire said one of his younger prospects, Will Anderson broke his hand so he will be out a few weeks.
“He will be able to help us out on the bases,” Coach Whitmire said. “He is a really fast, savvy baserunner.”
Breiton Whitmire returns as the team’s ace and best veteran hitter.
“He’s the leader of the class,” the coach said. “Brady was our leadoff hitter and has a good baseball IQ. Maverick Heine had one of the better batting averages and he will grind you out and wear down the pitchers. He also plays a good catcher for us.”
Coach Whitmire loves the fact the team is easy to get motivated to get to work and make the most of their opportunities to improve daily.
“This 8th grade class is very coachable, and they love the game,” Coach Whitmire said. “I have us in quite a few tournaments. I do expect us to repeat at the end-of-the-year tournament.”
The PONY roster will make up two teams for individual games and then the players will come together for tournaments.
For the Quad County tournament, Whitmire will combine the teams into one and will enter the bracket using the lesser of the two team records for seeding purposes.
“This team is going to be fun to watch for years to come,” the coach said. “With the talent and work ethic, if we don’t win some state championships at the higher level of Legion, that will be a fault on me. There is a lot of talent with this group.”
The team opens up play 8 p.m. Thursday against Ponca in Hartington and will host Wayne 8 p.m. Monday.
The Hartington Pony roster includes Hunter Bensen, Will Feilmeier, Quinn Hochstein, Gavin Klug, Jackson Klug, Ryan Lammers, Jared Rutar, Breiton Whitmire, Sam Wiebelhaus, Aaron Wortmann, Aiden Anderson, Max McCray, Lincoln Grutsch, Tate Fischer, Josh Fuerhoff, Nolan Heimes, Maverick Heine, Brady Hochstein, Booker Hochstein, Bodie Hochstein, Easton Hochstein, Landyn Keiser, Carter Kelly, Landon Clark, Jacob Kruse and Mason Thoene.