It’s going to be a busy summer for Jason Ogden. The veteran Moulton-Udell softball coach will be doing double duty this summer as he will continue to coach softball as well as take over coaching for the baseball team, replacing Brent Martsching after he spent 26 years as head coach.
“We hope that we can be more competitive this year. The kids have been working hard and that is all I can ask. They have been extremely patient and understanding with my doing both baseball and softball,” head coach Jason Ogden said.
The Eagles return nine boys from last year’s 1-18 squad that ended a 36-game losing streak that dated back to 2016. Returning for Moulton-Udell are seniors Caleb Martin and Dakota Veldhuizen along with juniors Wyatt Stansberry, Trent Rockwood, Charles Gibson and sophomores Hunter Hansen, Clayton Morlan and Hunter Spring. Freshman Dawson Veldhuizen also returns.
Martin and Dakota Veldhuizen return will a lot of playing experience and will hope to finish their high school careers on a high note. Martin is a capable catcher that will have to make sure his defense is in position and his pitchers are throwing strikes. If Dakota Veldhuizen improves this year like a did in basketball, he will be a valuable piece of the puzzle.
Stansberry was a second team all-conference selection for the Eagles last season. He batted leadoff and would hit .212 with two RBIs and 10 walks against just three strikeouts. Stansberry will also be asked to be the ace on the mound this season after owning a 5.66 ERA with 42 strikeouts against 18 walks in 29 2/3 innings.
Rockwood should also see an increased role on the rubber this year after seeing limited action there last season. He would have a team-low 4.80 ERA with 12 strikeouts against nine walks in 11 2/3 innings.
Hansen is Moulton-Udell’s best returning hitter. He had team-highs last year in batting average (.286), RBIs (nine) and was second in walks (15). Look for him to continue to improve at the plate and be a much-needed run producer for the Eagles.
“Our biggest hurdle will be at the plate. We have been making some adjustments early on that hopefully could turn things around, but only time will tell. It has been a focus early about putting the ball in play,” Ogden said.
Moulton-Udell also welcomes two newcomers this year in seniors Traevyn Brinegar and Hollister Spurgeon.
The Eagles will be going back to basics as they look to improve on the little things in the field and at the plate.
“We have been focusing on fundamentals a lot early on. It will be nice to get some good weather so we can put some of things we have worked on to the test,” Ogden said.
Moulton-Udell gave up 210 runs last year, only 135 of those were earned runs. That’s a lot of free runs and is something they need to cut down on going forward.
Pitching will also be a challenge for a team that had a 9.42 ERA, highest in the Bluegrass Conference last year. The Eagles have to find a way to throw strikes (had 106 walks in 100 1/3 innings last year) and let their defense work behind them.
“We will have a tough time with some of our games especially early on because of the pitching limitations,” Ogden said. “This is my first year worrying about the number of pitches a guy can throw. I have always watched pitch count carefully but now there are certain limits that could come into play.”
Experience should help this team through the tough times of a season. Their goal should be to get better everyday and find a way to be competitive in each and every game.
“I feel one of our strengths will be experience and hopefully our pitching will keep us in games. We have focused early on about attacking the zone and throwing strikes. We have nine of our 11 kids that return with a lot of experience from last year. Hopefully we can build off that and be competitive,” Ogden said.
|5/21||@ Orient-Macksburg||5 p.m.|
|5/23||vs Seymour||6 p.m.|
|5/24||@ Ankeny Christian Academy||6 p.m.|
|5/28||vs Lamoni||6 p.m.|
|5/30||@ Melcher-Dallas||6 p.m.|
|5/31||vs Moravia||6 p.m.|
|6/4||@ Mormon Trail||6 p.m.|
|6/7||vs Murray||6 p.m.|
|6/8||Home Tournament||10 a.m.|
|6/10||@ Central Decatur||5:30 p.m.|
|6/11||vs Orient-Macksburg||6 p.m.|
|6/13||@ Seymour||6 p.m.|
|6/14||vs Ankeny Christian Academy||6 p.m.|
|6/18||@ Lamoni||6 p.m.|
|6/20||vs Melcher-Dallas||6 p.m.|
|6/21||@ Moravia||6 p.m.|
|6/25||vs Mormon Trail||6 p.m.|
|6/27||vs Twin Cedars||6 p.m.|
|6/28||@ Murray||6 p.m.|
|7/1||@ Wayne||5:30 p.m.|
|7/5||vs Keota||5:30 p.m.|
|7/9||vs North Mahaska||5:30 p.m.|
*Times are approximate