Trojans’ 14 seniors to defend conference championship
IOWA CITY– Charlie Stumpff and his West High Trojans take to the diamond with 14 seniors on the roster for the 2014 season. Last year’s team went 33-8 overall and were 22-4 in Mississippi Valley Conference (Mississippi Division) contests.
Gone are Colin Baker, Reid Bonner, Ezra Reiners, Sam Scott, Josh Verry and Tanner Wilson, all 2013 grads. Reiners and Bonner were First Team All-State performers while Baker was a starting pitcher for three years.
Stumpff’s returning starters for this year include seniors Tyus Adkins (pitcher/infielder), Devin Raffensperger (catcher/third baseman), Declan Doyle (first baseman), Nate Boland (catcher/outfielder), Nick Gallagher (pitcher/infielder) and Nick Spies (pitcher/infielder). Adkins has signed to play for Upper Iowa University, Doyle signed with Iowa Western, and Raffensperger has committed to DMAC.
Adkins had a 1.62 ERA and led the team in strikeouts last year in just over 60 innings of work. Raffensperger led in RBIs with 40 and had a .386 batting average Raffensperger also knocked out eight homers. Doyle posted a .325 average and was second in RBIs with 31. Boland had a .276 average and was third in stolen bases with six. Gallagher pitched 36 innings with a 3.47 ERA with a 5-0 record. Spies worked 32 innings on the mound with a 3.00 ERA and also had a 5-0 record.
Also back are seniors Grant Ewing (short stop), Tanner Hackert (pitcher/outfielder), Brock Hatzky (outfielder), Collins Marine (pitcher/outfielder), Casey Dahm (infielder), Nick Kurth (pitcher), Jacob Verry (pitcher/infielder) and Keon Hunt (outfielder). Ewing had a .350 average last year, Hackert posted a 3.97 ERA in 12 innings on the mound, while Hatzky hit .235 but distinguished himself as a courtesy runner racking up 27 runs and 24 stolen bases. Hackert and Spies are still waiting to commit to a college, according to Stumpff.
Stumpff is optimistic with the experience of his lineup this season. In addition to the seniors, a “very talented and deep junior class will add great depth to our team,” the coach said. Last year, as sophomores, they posted a 30-7 record. Stumpff has been with the program for 21 years and knows experience isn’t everything, however.
“Our biggest question mark will be how our pitching depth comes around. A very challenging schedule will demand a deep staff,” he said. Stumpff noted it will be imperative for Raffensperger and Boland to develop a rapport with the pitching crew.
Not only is he concerned about the pitcher-catcher relationships, but also the overall team chemistry. “Having 14 seniors is a double-edged sword,” he said. “You have a bunch of experienced and talented players, but only nine can play at one time. How everyone responds to this will be critical.”
Looking at the division, Stumpff again noted West’s deep lineup with the middle four hitters back, along with his top three pitchers. Cedar Rapids Kennedy also has most of its pitching staff back along with other key players. “Kennedy has star power in Derek Jacobus, who is a three-year starter and First Team All-Conference outfielder. Zac Daniels is a marvelous athlete who played on Kennedy’s state basketball team returns as a First Team All-Conference utility player,” said Stumpff.
Dubuque Hempstead, he said, returns a number of starters and, “a talented pitching staff,” while Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Spencer VanScoyoc is back as one of the best pitchers in the league. Stumpff said most of the 2013 J-Hawk lineup is back also.