Positives could await Jeeps baseballMarch 23, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
DUBOIS — Northeast Dubois is trying its best to keep at things while school is in hiatus.
Coach Luke Woolems told the Herald in a text message March 15 that the coaching staff is reaching out to members of the Jeeps by phone, encouraging them to stay in shape and throw every day. That's about the extent of it, though, with what they can do in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak postponing local sports, much to the disappointment of the team.
Northeast Dubois was scheduled to start practicing March 16 before the delay shut those plans down. All of the facilities are closed until school is back in session, which is currently scheduled for May 1. The scrimmage that was set to take place March 26 against Jasper won't be happening. Woolems told the Herald in an email March 17 that he isn't sure how many games the team will miss.
"We just want to get to a point where we can get out on the field and play some ball," Woolems wrote in his email.
Many baseball players also play basketball, and they could not partake following the cancellation of the boys basketball tournament.
The third-year coach feels good about the team his year, should they be able to suit up. The Jeeps did not lose anybody to graduation.
"We kind of cut our teeth last year on a tough schedule with some young guys and I think that's going to help us this year," Woolems said. "Some of the lessons we learned last year are definitely going to help us this year."
Those lessons, he said, are how to play together and handle adversity. Woolems noted the maturation in his players and also the results they've had with strength and conditioning. He was also excited with what his basketball players could possibly do once baseball season rolls around.
Sophomore Colby Pieper got some innings on the mound and also got reps at shortstop last year. Junior Logan Mehringer was another arm for Northeast Dubois, and Woolems found his bat to be an asset. The Jeeps pitching could have a lot of depth, as the coach noted they could trot as many as eight or nine different hurlers out to the hill this year.
If Northeast Dubois gets to play, people will have a chance to see what senior Reece Bauer does for an encore following last year's Blue Chip All-Conference season. Bauer belted four home runs as a junior. He batted .418 and posted a .761 slugging percentage.
Bauer also went 4-5 with a 3.70 ERA last year. Woolems expects to win when Bauer is on the mound. He touted the Wabash College commit as somebody who would pitch again this year, along with Pieper, Mehringer, senior Ethan Ziegler and freshmen Aden Thewes and Kendrick Thombleson.
If the Jeeps are able to play, they'll try to improve from last year's 5-19 campaign. Northeast Dubois won three out of its last six games. Woolems chalked part of that record up to the tough schedule the Jeeps played in 2019, but he found optimism in some of that.
"I do think the fact that, as the season went along, and we end up winning four of our seven conference games, and we started putting some things together late in the season, I think that's a sign of some things to come for this year," he said.
Woolems isn't sure how much power his lineup will have. He talked about his players being athletic and producing speed, but offense is the main question for the Jeeps, if they can play this year.
"I think defensively, we're going to be solid," Woolems said. "Pitching-wise, we're going to be solid. It's going to come down to whether we can score runs, and if there was one place that we struggled last year, it was at the plate. I hope that the year of maturity, the time in the weight room, some of the experience we had last year will help us at the plate."
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