Beavers look to establish new school record for wins
February, 25, 2011
By: Mallory Kemper, sports information intern
HCAC Pre-season Coaches Poll
As James Grandey enters his eighth season as the head baseball coach at Bluffton University,
the experienced mentor is excited for the 2011 season with a team of experienced sophomores
and juniors. "I'm excited about the experience we're returning because a number of
our guys played a lot of innings last year," said Coach Grandey. "Because of our experience
the off-season has been better this year, so we are looking forward to seeing it pay
off. We have had a lot of strong leadership from our juniors and seniors. In 2011,
the team's #1 goal is to establish a new school record for wins in a season. Once
we accomplish that goal, we will move on to the next one," Grandey remarked.
There will be two senior leaders driving the 2011 squad, Adrian Fritch (Edon) and Sean Jaynes (Toledo/Maumee). "We are looking for a successful season from Adrian Fritch as he
returns with a wealth of experience on the mound," said Grandey. Fritch had a solid
junior campaign, finishing 2-3 with 29 strikeouts in 2010 and he looks to have even
more success this year. "Both of the seniors have committed four years to our program.
Their commitment level has meant a great deal to me and our program. They are prepared
to have a great season and I am excited for them."
Nick Broyles (Toledo/Whitmer), who moved to shortstop after starting in centerfield his entire
freshman season, hit a phenomenal .383 on the way to being named 2nd Team All-HCAC
in 2010. The standout junior established new Bluffton single-season highs with 49
RBI and 109 total bases while hitting 10 home runs and scoring 39 times which both
tied him atop the all-time leader board last season. "Nick is a dynamic player, has
great bat speed and is a tremendous base runner. I am looking forward to seeing Nick
settle in at shortstop this year and watching his defense improve," stated Grandey.
Junior third baseman Tyler Stephenson (Springfield/Northwestern), who along with Broyles has been named to Collegiate Baseball
America's Players to Watch this year, was last year's top hitter with a .401 batting
average, including a Bluffton single-season record 67 hits. Stephenson rapped two
triples in Bluffton's win over Juniata at the Snowbird Classic to start the season
and he never looked back. Stephenson, who was named honorable mention All-HCAC and
Team Most Valuable Player in 2010, is tied for 16th all-time with 157 total bases
while his nine home runs are tied for 10th all-time.
Also returning to the Bluffton infield after starting 26 games in 2010 is Kyle Trainer (Mechanicsburg). The junior, who received honorable mention All-HCAC honors after
hitting .364 a season ago, gives the Beavers three quarters of its 2010 starting infield
as well as a potent offensive trio that dominated opposing pitching last year.
"I am excited to have Nick and Tyler anchoring the middle of our lineup. And Kyle
is a tough out who does the little things that will help us score runs and win games,"
added Grandey about his trio of returning infielders.
The outfield also returns experience, including one of the Beavers' best all around
players, sophomore Kyle Niermann (Napoleon), in right field. Niermann received second-team All-HCAC honors following
the 2010 season. Junior Greg Bergstedt (Napoleon/Patrick Henry) and sophomore Miles Richardson (Granville/Newark Catholic) combined for 51 starts in the outfield with Bergstedt
sporting a .455 average and .705 slugging percentage while patrolling left field for
the Beavers late in the season.
Grandey looks for success from two junior pitchers, Kelly Barnes (Toledo/Toledo Christian), who had a 1-1 record last season with 33 strikeouts, and
Ryan Leugers (Botkins), another southpaw who saw significant action for the Beavers in 2010. Four
Bluffton sophomores give the Beavers a solid corps of hurlers for Coach Grandey to
draw from this season. Nick Rodesky (Bowling Green), Tyler Gibson (Sylvania/Southview), Mark Hadaya (Beavercreek) and Jordan Kruse (Napoleon) have the talent and experience to provide starting depth as well as anchoring
the bullpen in 2011.
In addition to having a tremendous amount of talent and experience back this year,
Grandey has assembled a talented group of newcomers that might push for playing time
early in the season. According to Grandey, "Transfer Matt McKinney (Columbus Grove/Bath) will look to make an immediate impact at first base this spring,
while Tyler Wright (Troy), a starting quarterback for the Beavers in the Fall, is very athletic and
his collegiate game experience has prepared him for baseball." Tim Webb (Delaware/Worthington Christian) will be competing for playing time behind the plate
while Airic Stegall (Hillsboro) and David Ianiro (Highland Heights/Mayfield) look to contribute for the Beavers this season.
Bluffton is scheduled to play its first baseball games of the season prior to March
when they take on Case Western and Wabash at Chillicothe on February 26. However,
the Beavers are also readying themselves for their annual trip to Florida during Spring
Break, the second week of March. On March 6, Bluffton will face John Jay at Port Charlotte
at 10 a.m. in the first of eight contests from Florida. The spring trip includes contests
against pre-season #1 Heidelberg and #16 Marietta. The Beavers will also face Muskingum
and John Carroll which both qualified for the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament
in 2010. Coach Grandey stated, "Our schedule will be one of the toughest in the region.
We look forward to a challenging non-conference schedule as it will prepare us well
for the Heartland Conference."
The Beavers will host Oberlin College on Wednesday, March 16 at 4 p.m. for their home
opener at Memorial Field before welcoming Thomas More on Saturday, March 19 for a
1 p.m. doubleheader. With the mixture of experience, talent and leadership, the Beavers
are excited to get on the field in 2011.