MFL MarMac will rely on pitching experience this season

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Members of the MFL MarMac varsity baseball team include (front, left to right) Chauncey Drahn, Ethan Stubbs, Kaden Stocker, Trevor Jones; (middle) Max Havlicek, Logan Engelhardt, Jackson Landt, Kaleb Tilson, Cedrick Drahn, Drew Mezera; (back) head coach Brandon Burke, assistant coach Collin Stubbs, Chaise Ziegler, Michael Egan, Nathan Johanningmeier, Zach Trudo, Cullen McShane and assistant coach Tyus Adkins. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The MFL MarMac baseball team will rely on an experienced pitching staff to reach the next level this season.

Ninety-seven percent of last year’s staff returns this summer, and all but one athlete has multiple years of varsity experience, according to head coach Brandon Burke. The leaders will include juniors Jackson Landt and Cedrick Drahn, senior Nathan Johanningmeier and sophomore Max Havlicek.

“All four of these guys have experienced success in the past and we are looking for them to be work horses on the mound,” said Burke, who’s entering his fourth season with the Bulldogs.

Burke is joined by assistant coaches Collin Stubbs, now in his second year, and Tyus Adkins, who came on this season.

“Coach Adkins has brought a new philosophy on our throwing program and the changes are really paying off for the kids,” Burke noted.

Along with MFL MarMac’s pitching strength, Burke said the team, as a whole, is very experienced. Eight of nine starters from last year are back, and each has at least two years of varsity experience.

“Many of these guys started as freshmen and eighth graders my first year and have continued to develop into quality baseball players,” he shared.

In the field, Burke looks for juniors Ethan Stubbs and Kaleb Tilson and seniors Zach Trudo and Michael Egan to anchor an improved defense, while also providing help out of the bullpen.  At the plate, Stubbs, Johanningmeier, Drahn, Landt and Trudo will look to build off successful 2018 campaigns and lead the offense to the next level.

Juniors Chaise Ziegler and Trevor Jones are returning varsity players who can play multiple positions, and Burke expects them to provide depth in the lineup and innings out of the bullpen.

Freshman Cullen McShane is one of the anticipated newcomers to the team.

“We’re looking for him to help out in the outfield and provide depth in the bullpen,” Burke said. “He will also be a weapon on the bases with his great speed.”

 The team will focus most on improving its offense this season. 

“It’s the area where we need to take it to the next level if we want to reach our goals,” explained Burke. “We have made some changes to our hitting philosophy and are focusing on improving on our power numbers, trying to drive the ball in the air more effectively and more consistently.”

If the Bulldogs can do that, he believes they could be poised to earn a winning record, compete for the top spot in the conference and make a deep run in the playoffs.

It helps, Burke added, that the program has developed a family-like culture, where many of the players are close both on and off the field.

“Our team chemistry and work ethic has been awesome this off-season and through the first few weeks of practice,” he said. “These young men have put in the time necessary to be successful and I’m looking forward to seeing their hard work pay off.”

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