Wildcats have questions to answerMarch 15, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Finding out who will play where and returning to basics will be in order for Jasper this spring.
The Wildcats went 23-5 last season, handing coach Terry Gobert the 800th win of his career. However, they fell in the sectional semifinal to Castle, 10-7. Jasper only got to the semifinal by virtue of a bye, and bid farewell to eight seniors in the process.
It's not just the turnover that presents a challenge to the 2020 Wildcats. They are looking for players who can put the ball in play and move runners over.
"We just had way too many strikeouts and popups the last two years," Gobert said. "We're trying to just learn how to manufacture runs again. We used to be pretty good at it here."
The Wildcats lost some key pieces to graduation in Big Eight All-Conference selections Trevor Krapf and Josh Weidenbrenner. However, Andrew Wallace is back for his junior year. He not only garnered All-Conference honors, but also was named an honorable mention for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association on its All-State Team in 2019. Wallace batted .400 with a .570 on-base percentage and .554 slugging percentage.
Wallace led the team in batting average and OBP, and his 22 RBIs tied for the second most on the team. Jasper doesn't put too much emphasis on awards, though, in spite of how great they are. Gobert said Wallace needs to have a good year at the plate, and has many things to work on, such as his ability to get runners over and questioning where he fits in defensively.
Also coming back is senior Carter Stamm, who anchored the team's pitching staff in 2019, his first year of varsity experience. Stamm went 6-0 with a 1.57 ERA, led Jasper with 46 innings pitches and went the distance four times. He fanned 45 batters his senior year and only walked 14.
"He got better and better last year, and he's going to have to take it up a notch this year," Gobert said of Stamm. "He didn't pitch much for us until last year and he did a nice job. We'd like to be able to give him the ball and know that he's going to give us seven good innings and a chance to win. He should be better. He's got a year under his belt. We need some other guys to kind of do the same thing."
The Wildcats tend not to talk about how many games they want to win, or if they want to win conference. It's the final year of the Big Eight, but Jasper doesn't talk too much about conference. The focus is getting better every game. The Wildcats seek to utilize not giving their opponents extra outs and putting the ball in play.
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted local sports, including practice. The Wildcats were scheduled to open April 1 against Evansville Memorial, but that has been cancelled, as has the scheduled March 26 scrimmage against Northeast Dubois, per a Sunday text message from Northeast Dubois coach Luke Woolems.
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