The Independence varsity baseball team is loaded with power, pitching, speed, defense, and a talented crop of seniors ready to repeat as Southwestern 4A Conference Champions.
The expectations are high as there is a good mix of experienced players and young athletes who will be expected to be called upon by Coach Daniel Cooke. “The team finished 20-8 last season, and the Patriots are looking to improve upon that mark and go deeper into the playoffs this season. However, we need to take one game at a time, continue to improve, stay focused, and work hard in practice in preparation for the upcoming campaign,” said Coach Cooke.
The pitching staff looks real solid with four starters in the rotation and a good bullpen. The number 1 starter and team ace is senior Dylan Giorgio, the number 2 starter is senior Nick Melton, the number 3 starter is senior Noah Haislip, the number 4 starter is sophomore Raja Milton. The bullpen will be strong with juniors Jake McDaniel and Kyle Devine. The coach has not determined who the closer will be; however, he probably will decide to use his bullpen based on the game situation and best match-up.
The lineup is expected to be potent with Cooper Fandel, Noah Haislip, and Corbin Berkovics, who will supply power and are expected to produce and drive in runs for the Patriots.
The Patriots are strong up the middle with senior All-Conference catcher Cooper Fandel behind the dish, senior Noah Hailsip at shortstop, junior Matthew Magnum at second base, and Bubba Comer or Nate Brown in center field.
Other hard working seniors who are expected to make a significant contribution are Angelo Aldarondo, Jabari Moore, Michael Menzer, and Chris Castellucci. “We fully expect our seniors to step up, provide leadership, and be productive, ” said Coach Cooke.
Newcomer freshman Ryan Magnum, who has good baseball instincts and is solid defensively, is expected to fill in for Noah Haislip when he is on the mound. Corbin Berkovics will be at first base and is expected to provide pop in the lineup, Matthew Magnum promoted from the JV is going to make a positive contribution at second base, and sophomore Noah Howie will be used as a utility player.
Overall, the team looks solid in all the major aspects of the game. The teams biggest competition is expected to come from arch rival Butler, Myers Park, and Porter Ridge. The Patriots goal is to win the conference and to make a run deep into the playoffs. “We have the talent, depth, work ethic, experience, and positive mental attitude that should give us the edge we will need to accomplish our mission, ” said Coach Cooke.