ST. MARYS — While the St. Marys baseball team graduated a talented group of eight seniors from last season’s District 9 title-winning squad, the Dutch are looking to a group of key returning players to lead them to another strong season.
Last season’s district title was St. Marys first since 2000 and just its third in program history, as a players from that senior class played a vital role in the team’s year on the way to a 15-8 overall record.
Two of those seniors, Jared Groll on the mound and Tim Beimel in the outfield, were named to the 2018 TCS/CE All-Star First Team last season.
Groll was a leader for the Dutch on the mound and at the plate, as he had a 6-1 record as a pitcher with a 2.41 ERA and stuck out 26 batters in 29 innings.
At the plate, Groll hit .368 (21-for-57) on the year with 15 runs batted in and 12 runs scored and also tied for the team lead with six doubles on the year.
Beimel was a strong defender in the outfield for St. Marys last season and also one of its leaders at the plate and added shut-down pitching for the Dutch.
His batting average of .411 (23-for-56) was seventh best among Tri-County Area players and he finished with 16 RBIs and 12 runs.
On the mound, Beimel was sixth in the area with 51 strikeouts over 36 1/3 innings and posted a 3-4 record with a 2.12 ERA.
The Dutch also graduated Hayden Tettis, who was third on the team with 14 runs, and Brendan Rolley, who finished with 11 runs scored on the season last year.
The other four seniors on last season’s team were Nobuo Elder, Ryan Dressler, Austin Sadosky and Jesse McKee.
While the Dutch graduated a large group last season, they do return a talented senior class this season including retiring TCS/CE Player of the Year Nate Beimel.
Nate Beimel was a dominant force on the mound as well as with his bat on his way to being the first Dutchmen to earn the honor since 1998.
Nate Beimel went 5-0 on the mound with an impressive 0.78 ERA and was third in the area with 92 strikeouts over 44 1/3 innings and also allowed just six runs (5 earned) on 11 hits all season.
He also finished with a .333 average (21-for-63) at the plate with 22 RBIs, 12 runs, five doubles and four home runs.
Nate Beimel is part of a key returning group this year that includes fellow returning starters in Shane Price, Matt Bellina, Jake Meeker and Brandon Sicheri, along with Kael Azzato, Paul Armanini and Adam Piccolo.
“Although we did lose some key pieces, I think we come back with just as strong of a senior class this year,” St. Marys head coach AJ Meeker said.
Sicheri was a leader with is bat for the St. Marys last year as he posted a .379 average and team-highs in runs with 28, hits with 25 and was second in RBIs with 17.
Meeker noted that it will be vital to his team’s success to have players step in and fill some voids on the mound and defensively left from last year’s departed seniors.
On the mound, the question for the Dutch is who will step up behind Nate Beimel and replace Tim Beimel and Groll.
Defensively, St. Marys will need to have players step up to fill in the middle infield to replace Groll and Tettis, as well as the corner outfield positions to replace Tim Beimel and Rolley.
Meeker said his seniors have been doing well in the preseason, but has only seen some strong play from some underclassmen so some positions are still up for grabs.
The head coach added that Nate Beimel, Meeker and Sicheri will likely be leaders this season.
“Nate (Beimel) is our ace and we go as he goes,” Meeker said. “Beezer (Sicheri) and Jake (Meeker) are our vocal leaders with Beezer controlling the outfield and Jake controlling our infield and pitching staff.”
Meeker noted that the trio will be the team’s spark at the plate and said Price has come into the season in great shape and worked hard during the offseason to improve his defense.
Azzato, who stepped in for the Dutch in key situations last season, will likely have an increased role this season.
The Dutch coach said his team has a good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen who are all battling for playing time.
“Overall, we actually have more depth than we’ve had in previous years, so it will be fun to see how this plays out,” Meeker said.
While position battles are still taking place for St. Marys, a handful of the starters are definitive for Meeker and his staff.
Nate Beimel will split time between the mound and first bace, while Meeker will start behind the plate and Price will play the middle infield and also earn staring time as the designated hitter.
Bellina and Azzato will start either at third or shortstop, Sicheri will start in center field and Garrett Bauer will spend time in the center infield or as a DH.
“The other positions and who plays when on the corners are up in the air right now,” Meeker said.
The Dutch open their season Wednesday at home against DuBois.
Seniors: Brandon Sicheri, Adam Piccolo, Kael Azzato, Matt Bellina, Paul Armanini, Mitchell Bille, Nate Beimel, Shane Price. Juniors: Greg Tettis, Jake Meeker, Kolby Bauer. Sophomores: Garret Bauer, Connor Bressler. Freshmen: Christian Coudreit.