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New field, trip to St. Louis on deck for 2024 Osky baseball

May 12—OSKALOOSA — This summer is shaping up to be a fun one for the Oskaloosa baseball team. The Indians get to debut their brand new turf field while also getting to make a trip south for a special game in St. Louis.

Oskaloosa completed a huge renovation for their baseball field this year that includes more than 115,000 square feet of synthetic turf, new backstops, bullpens, fencing, automated sports broadcasting technology and an upgraded LED lighting system.

Not only will the boys be able to enjoy that, but they also get a special opportunity later this summer when they head down to St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals of the MLB invited the Indians down to play in a game against Ottumwa following a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium on June 8. The boys will not only be able to catch the big league game before, but they will get a chance to play on a Major League field.

This year's Oskaloosa squad will feature a lot of newer faces as the Indians have to replace six senior starters from last year's team. Oskaloosa enjoyed seven straight winning seasons from 2014-20 but have been held under 10 wins in each of their last three. A new-look team and facility will hope to start pushing the Indians back in the right direction in 2024.

As far as returners go, Osky does return their top hitter and top pitcher from a year ago.

Senior third baseman Wyatt Grubb is back and will be a fixture in the middle of the Indian lineup. Last year he led the team in batting average (.369), hits (38), home runs (2) and RBIs (21) and will provide a lot of pop in the lineup night in and night out.

Sophomore southpaw Linus Morrison is back to lead the pitching staff after a very strong freshman campaign where he led the Indians with a 3-2 record to go with a 2.36 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. If he can limit some of the walks (30 in 2023), he has the tools to put up another solid season on the bump. Morrison also only had 14 at-bats last year but ended up hitting .286 with four walks.

Other players returning with experience are seniors Spencer Vaughan and Garrett Roethler, juniors Maddux Ashman, Jaden DeRonde and Lukas Toubekis and sophomore Jake North.

Vaughan and Roethler both bring starting experience on the mound and a handful of plate appearances. Ashman started 17 games a year ago and will look to take a step forward after being held to a .071 batting average last year. DeRonde will join Morrison as one of the top returning pitchers after posting a 2-4 record with a 3.07 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. Toubekis has limited experience while North started 20 games as freshman last season. North ended up with a .170 batting average and seven RBIs but should have a good chance to improve on that this summer.

A lot of players will be stepping into bigger roles for the Indians. Grubb and Morrison will look to lead the offense and pitching respectively and should give Osky a boost in both areas but the team will also need to take steps forward in hitting (.234 BA last year), defense (103 errors in 35 games) and limiting walks (165 in 231 innings).

The Little Hawkeye Conference is always a challenge and Oskaloosa will try to improve on their 3-18 record from 2023 with a couple of solid non-conference opponents also on the schedule. With the new field and St. Louis trip as well, it should be a fun summer for the Indians.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.