With a core featuring a lot of juniors and sophomores in high-responsibility roles, the 2018 Woodland/Flanagan-Cornell baseball team took serious strides toward developing into the type of ballclub for which veteran skipper Todd "Bubs" Hoffman was hoping.
Now with nine returning letterwinners and plenty of experienced upperclass leadership, the 2019 Warriors look poised to put together a winning campaign — and maybe a little more — this spring.
"There are a lot of lettermen, and I think we have a pretty solid group of seniors this year," said Hoffman. "Several of them have played on varsity before where this is their third or even fourth year, so there's a lot of experience in those positions coming back."
Five returning senior letterwinners — including three Times All-Area selections — and four returning juniors lead the way, starting with Times All-Area Second Team selection/fourth-year varsity starter Kyle Voytko (.373 batting average, 3 HR, 12 RBIs; 2-3 pitching record, 4.04 ERA), Third Team pick/four-year varsity contributor Collin Hjerpe (.281, 3 HR, 13 RBIs; 2-3, 3.29 ERA) and Honorable Mention selection/third-year starter Tyler Jenkins (.350, 7 RBIs).
Seniors Clayton Sibert (.276, 8 RBIs) and Jake Albertson (.200, 11 RBIs) as well as juniors Trevor Derossett (.333, 2 RBIs), Cody Dodge (.273, 6 RBIs), Brad Simpson (.231, 6 RBIs) and Mason Ewing (.208, 11 RBIs; 2-0, 1.33 ERA) also return from a 2018 Warriors team that finished the year 9-11.
Seniors Triston Watson and Mikey Moranville, junior Christian Miller, sophomores Nolan Bressi and Aiden Boyles, and freshmen Keegan Boldt, Will Weber, Carl Sass, Jake Hutton and Phoenix Cooper provide depth and should receive opportunities to prove themselves.
With Hjerpe expected to carry much of the pitching load at the top of the rotation followed closely by Voytko and Ewing, WFC's planned starting rotation looks to be in place, with Hoffman commenting he has "some very nice arms to work with." Jenkins, Sibert, Dodge and Sass should see some significant time on the bump too, with Derossett, Miller, Boyles and Bressi also potential hurlers.
Sibert was a solid backstop last year and looks to share time behind the plate this spring with Simpson. Miller, Albertson and Boyles look to be potential first basemen, Dodge returns at the hot corner backed by Boyles and Watson, and the middle infield will include some combination of Jenkins, Hjerpe, Derossett and Bressi.
Out in the outfield, Ewing in center and Voytko in right look to be shoo-ins when they're not on the mound. Simpson, Sass, Watson, Moranville and a few other players are fighting for time in the grass.
When things get going — whenever the weather allows it — Hoffman seems to be expecting a good, fun year ... hopefully one with more wins than losses.
"I definitely expect to compete," he said. "We have so much experience coming back this year, game experience. We took that first step last year, I thought, and overall as a program got better. This year I expect us to take it to the next level. It remains to be seen conference-wise (in the Tri-County) where we fit in ... but the experience factor, I think, is going to help us out a lot.
"It's a nice group of kids this year. Good camaraderie, and they just seem to mesh real well. I think it's going to be a fun group to be around."
No. Player Pos. Yr.
1 Aiden Boyles IF/P So.
2 Kyle Voytko OF/P Sr.
3 Trevor Derossett IF/P Jr.
6 Tyler Jenkins IF/P Sr.
7 Cody Dodge IF/P Jr.
8 Collin Hjerpe IF/P Sr.
9 Carl Sass P/Util. Fr.
10 Brad Simpson C/OF Jr.
11 Mason Ewing OF/P Jr.
13 Keegan Boldt C/IF Fr.
14 Triston Watson IF Sr.
15 Clayton Sibert C/P Sr.
16 Christian Miller IF/P Jr.
17 Nolan Bressi IF/P So.
20 Jake Albertson OF Sr.
23 Mikey Moranville OF Sr.
21 Jake Hutton C/IF Fr.
22 Will Weber C/OF Fr.
27 Phoenix Cooper OF Fr.
Head coach: Todd "Bubs" Hoffman (8th season)