2005 Season Preview
Baseball looks to continue upward trend in 2005 campaign
By Ben Risinger, sports information director
March 3, 2005
The Bluffton University baseball team has grown in the off season and is better prepared for the 2005 campaign. In coach James Grandey's first year at the helm, the 2004 squad ended the season with an 11-29 overall record and a 6-15 mark in the Heartland Conference.
"Last year was a learning experience for everybody," Grandey said. "The team was able to get a handle on my style of baseball and the way that I like to get things done."
According to Grandey, the team made three major improvements during the off season - adding a full-time assistant coach, a freshman class of 19 and irrigation improvements were added to the field. Eric Screeton, a graduate of Manchester College and a Heartland Conference opponent, joined the team this year as a full-time assistant coach. "Screeton comes to Bluffton with knowledge and experience of the type of baseball that is common to the team and conference," said Grandey.
"These three improvements will have a huge impact for us. The biggest change is having an additional coach on campus. That allows both of us to work with different groups during practice which is making our practices more effective," Grandey said.
The Beavers have been practicing hard in anticipation of their 2005 opener. The team held position practices every day to work with the infield, pitchers, outfield and the team as a whole. Training has gone much smoother this season with the addition of a second coach. "The team is stronger, faster and has been conditioning much harder than last year. We'll be ready for opening day," Grandey said.
Returning to help lead the team in 2005 will be senior Ryan Fiely (Greenville/Greenville) who has moved to the third base spot. Fiely posted .305 batting average, 36 hits, seven doubles, five home runs and 23 RBI's in 2004. "Ryan has to be our best all-around player this year. I look for him to be a hitting leader and a leader defensively on the field," Grandey said.
Senior Jason Moore (Elida/Elida) will return as the number one pitcher for Bluffton. Moore saw limited time on the mound last season as a starter. He ended the year with a 3-2 record, 50 innings pitched and 32 strikeouts. "Jason will be our number one pitcher. He has been working hard during the off season," Grandey said.
Junior Tony Gerig (West Unity/Hilltop) returns at centerfield with junior Riordan McClain (Upper Sandusky/Upper Sandusky) returning at the shortstop position. Gerig batted .254 with 82 putouts in the field for a 1.00 fielding percentage. McClain also posted a .254 batting average with 54 putouts in the field for a .841 fielding percentage. "Tony knows his strengths and weaknesses and plays the game very well. Riordan is the most athletic player on the team. We just need him to be more consistent and play better defense," Grandey said.
Key newcomers to the squad in 2005 include freshman pitcher Tim Kay (Alpharetta, Ga./Blessed Trinity), freshman outfielder/pitcher Jimmy McMonagle (Ida, Mich./Ida), freshman third baseman Kyle White (Berne, Ind./South Adams) and junior transfer Lowell Wyse (Camden, Mich./Hesston College) who will be in the outfield. Freshmen Tony Moore (Elida/Elida), Anthony Bryant (Reynoldsburg/Reynoldsburg) and Taylor Iceman (Lucas/Lucas) will compete for the second base position. "The freshman class is very talented and they represent the future of the program. I look for them to push for some starting positions on the field this season."
Grandey is looking forward to the start of the baseball season. "This will be our transition year," Grandey said. "This is just a great group to build the program with."