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No seniors, no problem for Pella baseball

May 14—PELLA — Pella head baseball coach Jesse Jabonski enters his 12th year leading the Dutch with over 200 wins to his name and a squad that despite not having a single senior, is still poised to have a pitching staff and defense that could win them a lot of games in 2024.

"We've got a lot of pitching depth that we can throw at opponents," Jablonski said. "There are a lot of quality arms that will compete and have a lot of grit in them. The overall depth of our roster should help us be able to move guys around the field to cover for pitching plans or other roster needs. We feel good about our offensive potential, but that is probably our big question mark as we head into the season. I think we'll have some different lineups early in the year as we figure out some holes, but by the end of the year I think the lineup will be in good shape."

The Dutch will be led by a very strong junior group with a lot of varsity baseball experience.

Isaiah Kettler is back after earning his second all-state honor last year with the center fielder hitting .361 with a .463 OBP to go with 12 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 24 RBIs. He will be a key hitter in the middle of the order and will look to be a late inning arm out of the bullpen.

Anderson Schirm is back behind the plate after earning second team all-conference honors last season. Schirm batted .290 last summer with a .421 OBP with eight walks, 16 hit-by-pitches and only one strikeout while driving in 19 runs. He has great bat to ball skills and Jablonski has raved about his defense behind the dish.

Nathan Carey is back to lead the pitching staff after posting a 3-2 record with a 2.33 ERA and 45 Ks in 48 innings last year. Carey received second team all-conference honors for his efforts and will look to be the ace this season. His bat also came along and added some depth to the lineup with a .343 batting average and 15 RBIs.

Lake Cowman worked his way into the lineup last year and posted a solid season with a .258 average and one home run with 11 RBIs. He will try to ride that momentum into this season and could see some time on the mound as well.

Nathan Vandelune has been a apart of the rotation for his first two varsity seasons and will continue that in 2024. He doesn't have as much overpowering stuff as some of his teammates but he still posted a 3-5 record with a 3.25 ERA and 28 Ks in 36 2/3 innings.

Landyn Bethards was the starting shortstop for most of 2023 but was limited at the plate with a .087 BA. He'll try to get the bat going this year while also being an option on the mound.

Sophomore Samuel Carlson also returns after pitching mostly in relief as a freshman where he had a 3.94 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. He will be vying for a starting spot this year.

Pella also has a handful of newcomers looking to grab starting jobs in 2024 with juniors Lucas Jablonski, Tanner Roley, Ryan Howard and sophomore Teagan Hoekstra. Jablonski will be one of several players fighting for an infield spot and could bring a bat with some power potential. Roley saw just five varsity innings out of the bullpen last year and should see some more innings while also filtering into the outfield rotation. Howard will also battle for an infield spot and some innings out of the bullpen. Hoekstra pitched JV in 2023 but should be in the mix for a starting spot and can also provide great defense in the outfield.

Pella finished third in the Little Hawkeye Conference last season with a 12-9 conference record. They will be challenged again in LHC play with a lot of non-conference tests in the mix as well. The Dutch have six state tournament teams from 2023 on the docket for a total of 10 games. The highlights include games against DCG and Pella Christian as well as non-conference home games against Class 3A runner-up North Polk and Class 4A champions Johnston.

The Dutch have no seniors but a handful have a lot of experience and are just two years removed from a state tournament run in 2022 and will know what it will take to get back into the top eight at the end of the summer.

"We've got all the potential in the world with this group, and they are a hungry group that believes they can compete for a spot near the top of a very tough Little Hawkeye Conference and make a good run in the postseason," Jablonski said. "We have a good mix of experience and new guys battling for spots this year. We'll need some younger guys to step up and fill some holes in the lineup, but but this team has the pitching and the overall depth to compete with anyone."

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