“Our goal is to win our region and make it to the NCCAA Division II World Series,” Garrison said. “The team will miss seniors Joel Borchardt, Nate Lyle, and Jason Garrison, but I believe we will be a strong defensive and hitting team.”
Borchardt, a versatile pitcher and infielder, logged the third-most innings pitched on the team (32.1), but will sit out the season due to student teaching.
The Crusaders hope senior pitcher Tim Shelp, can fill that gap after leading Maranatha last season with a 6.15 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
“Our concern with pitching will obviously be depth, but I’m looking forward to players like Derek Funkhouser, Garett Ordway, and Andy Timblin stepping up,” Gary Garrison said.
A revamped outfield must overcome the loss of Lyle at center field with freshmen Jacob Bauer, Cody Borland, and sophomore Caleb Rost.
The infield starts with Shelp at first, a combination of Timblin and Galen Balinski replacing Jason Garrison at second, freshman Timothy Rogers at shortstop, and Ordway at third.
Rogers, a soccer player, has already made an impression with his quickness and hitting while Garrison praised Bauer and Rost for their work ethic in practice.
Although the team will be young, Garrison said, “The spirit is very good and the team has bonded real well. I’m excited about my freshmen because, overall, they have speed and can hit the ball.”
Maranatha’s first home game is scheduled for March 28 against Finlandia. The Crusaders begin Northern Athletics Conference play March 29, against Edgewood College at 3 p.m. in Madison.