Cobras Baseball ready for 2013 season
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 20:02
The winter months are almost behind us. The Parkland College Baseball season is set to begin February 22 with a trip to Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, Ark.
Head Coach Matt Kennedy begins his fifth season as the Cobras’ skipper. He has compiled a record of 183-53 and is coming off a 40-20 season a year ago.
The February opener in Arkansas is the earliest that Kennedy has ever started a Cobras Baseball season in his tenure.
“We wanted to open it up earlier to spread out pitching a little bit,” Kennedy explained about the early start.
The Cobras will play four games in three days with two each against Arkansas Baptist and Itawamba College before making the annual trek to Millington, Tennessee to compete in the USA Classic the following weekend.
Kennedy wants to make sure he maintains solid pitching throughout an entire weekend. This shouldn’t be a problem as the Cobras’ rotation is solid even if still unproven.
“As a staff we’re still trying to figure out rotations,” Kennedy said. “Bullpen-wise I’m excited, I mean we’re loaded out of the pen.”
Those expected to be starters right away for Kennedy’s club are sophomores Brett Haan and Jason Ziegler, freshman transfer from the University of Illinois-Chicago Tyler Anderson and redshirt-freshman Sam Thoele who’s coming off an arm injury the previous season.
“We’ve got a lot of good arms, lot of depth. We can throw about any starter out there and know we’re going to get good innings out of everyone,” right hander Sam Thoele said.
Depth allows the pitching to remain fresh despite maybe having thrown an abundance of innings over the course of a season.
“I don’t have to go so deep into the ballgame,” left hander Jason Ziegler said. “I can go six or seven innings, and then the back end of the rotation can really follow up strong and get the W.”
The Cobras not only possess quality starters from both arm slots, but they also have a good mix of righties and lefties out of the pen.
Freshmen Jake Sale, Alex Lesiak, Kyle Weller, Jake Weber, Cody Heisserer, Isaac Sampen, the experienced sophomore Will Polley, who has signed with Iowa and Dan Leake, the local Centennial product all throw from the right side.
The Cobras can also come back with two lefties out of the pen in freshman Nick Blaha and sophomore Jesse Remington.
“I’m excited about the bullpen but they’re very young,” fifth year head coach Matt Kennedy pointed out. “We need to get them in at the right time, right situations and go from there.”
Looking to take the pressure off the Cobras’ pitching are the position players, primed and ready to make an immediate impact this season.
Kennedy has an idea of what the depth chart may look like for opening day this Friday.
Transfer Sam Sampen, an early enrollee after graduating high school early, looks to be the guy at third base.
Sampen originally committed to play for West Virginia University but when older brother Isaac Sampen didn’t get into school at Purdue to play, Sam Sampen followed him to Parkland and became a Cobra.
“Big body left-handed kid that can pick it at third,” Kennedy said by way of describing Sampen.
At shortstop, it looks as if freshman Johnny Herrera will get the nod to start opening day as he battles with other talented freshman Marvin Campos for time.
Both Campos and Herrera can play second base as well, but second base will be manned by freshman Brady Burns. Burns is the younger brother of Cobras’ third team All-American catcher Bobby Burns from the 2012 team.
The middle infielders are something the Cobras have an abundance of as sophomore Pat Schutzbach can play all infield positions. Campos and Herrera may split time at both short and second.
“That’s going to be like a revolving door for awhile,” Kennedy said about his middle infield. “I like the way Johnny and Marvin work up the middle a lot.”
The main guy and key player for the Cobras’ infield is first baseman Adam Casson. Behind him is a player who can provide back-up in center fielder Joe Trennepohl.
At catcher, Cobras have two solid options that will both get playing time in sophomore Nolan Wilson and freshman Ramon Valdez.
“We know what we’re going to get with Nolan, he’s a solid catcher, knows how to work the game,” pitcher Jason Ziegler said about his catcher. “Ramon’s coming in as a freshman, he’s a real solid catcher too and they’re battling out for playing time.”
Canadian product Ramon Valdez has begun to get used to the demands of being a college catcher.
“The beginning was really hard practices, they want to make sure we’re conditioned from summer into the fall,” he explained about the transition. “At the beginning it was different you know, you start getting into the rhythm of things and get closer to the guys and it gets better.”