One of the last things a high school baseball team with a new coach needs in the middle of the week before the first games of the season is weather cold enough to support snow, but that’s what Hillsboro’s team endured. One almost expects that when the first game is in mid-March, but practice and games were delayed in 2021 because of COVID-19.
The new coach has familiarity with Hillsboro High as a player and the South Central Conference as a baseball coach; he graduated from HHS after winning multiple letters as a fierce competitor in soccer, basketball, and baseball, McBrain played baseball for Millikin University before coaching girls’ basketball and baseball at Staunton.
Practice sessions have been few this spring as several of his squad members were involved with games in the soccer and football programs. The football players will play at Piasa Southwestern tomorrow, Friday, April 23, before suiting up to battle Lincoln High School Saturday here, weather and field conditions permitting.
McBrain said, “The lineups will be fluid for the first few weeks,” but he listed two players at each position except center field and on the mound, where he lists eight - perhaps not enough for the 24 varsity game schedule, especially considering IHSA pitch limitations.
Ian Malloy and Deklan Riggs are potential first basemen. Dillon Smail and Kayden Luebacher are listed at second; Drake Vogel and Drew Willman are at shortstop; and rounding out the infield are Jace Tuetken and Preston Lyerla at third.
Brady Meier and Blaze Helton could be in left field; Hayden Grosenheider will be in center when he isn’t pitching; and Gavin Matoush and Owen Anderson will hold down right field. There are four potential catchers, all of whom are also listed elsewhere: Helton, Tuetken, Vogel, and Lyerla.
Besides Grosenheider, the named pitching prospects are Vogel, Anderson, Matoush, Malloy, Meier, Tuetken, and Willman. Devin Speiser is listed as the utility man, which in high school generally means good enough to play any position at any time.
Others vying for playing time this year, either on the varsity or junior varsity, are junior Austin Edwards; sophomores Cameron Hacke, Nick Hockett, Reese Morford, and Dillon Devlin; and freshmen Elias Gutierrez, Elliot Lentz, Dylan Lessman, Austin Loskot, and Landon Summers.
Helping McBrain in the dugout this season, which doesn’t end until mid-June, are volunteer coach Mike Rappe, Evan Malloy, and Matt Burke. The three are holdovers from past regimes.
The double header against Lincoln is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. this Saturday, April 24, at the sports complex.