Mar 28, 2024

Trojan Baseball Optimistic Amidst Rebuilding Year

Posted Mar 28, 2024 4:01 PM

Lead Sportswriter - Salina Post

Salina Regional Orthopedic & Sports Medicine- Your home-field advantage starts here.
Salina Regional Orthopedic & Sports Medicine- Your home-field advantage starts here.

For the first time in a long time, the Southeast of Saline baseball team has entered a season seemingly with more questions than answers, but despite all that, the feeling around Gypsum remains one of optimism.

The Trojans graduated nine seniors a season ago, including a good chunk of the All-League squad that helped Southeast to a 15-8 record and a sixth-straight NCAA title.

“It’s a whole new crew around here,” SES head coach Mike Garretson said. “We have just two guys (Cole Gilpin and Grady Gebhardt) who were on varsity last year and we had a lot of guys that just had to wait for their time.”

For most of Southeast’s roster, that time has finally come, and following a 2-2 start, it’s clear that despite some inevitable growing pains, this Trojan team still has teeth, after dismantling Wichita Independent 20-5 and 17-1 over the weekend.

While battles rage on at a majority of positions early in the year, that competition is a good sign for a Southeast squad that has just two seniors on its roster in 2024.

“We’re still be giving a lot of guys playing time and by the end of the year we’ll have it whittled down to 11 or so but we’re playing 14-15 guys to let them show us what they can do,” Garretson said. “We’re hoping to build a good foundation that will pay off for us whether that’s this year or years in the future.”

Those aforementioned growing pains are the kind of thing you’d expect out of a team with several players just getting their feet wet at the varsity level, but underneath the early-season walks, strikeouts, and errors lies a group filled to the brim with raw talent, and willing to put in the work to get better day by day.

“These guys are eager to dive in and do their best,” he said. “We’re not real experienced but we’re coaching them up as the moments arise and they’re very receptive. Effort and attitude have been great and it’s a lot of fun to work with kids like that.”

The two returning anchors from last year’s team are all-league pitcher Cole Gilpin, and speedy outfielder Grady Gebhardt, who lead the team alongside the two seniors Eli Commerford and Treytan Olson.

Among the slew of newcomers, standouts include freshmen catchers Noah Rupert and Casson Klover and third baseman Ian Nickelson, who will back up a mostly new pitching staff filled out by Gilpin, Olson, Rupert, Killian Vaughan, Jackson Calvin, Tiernan Ptacek, and Drew Weller.

Despite their inexperience and facing down one of the best leagues in the state of Kansas with heavy hitters in Sacred Heart, Ellsworth, and Beloit, the goals in Gypsum have not changed, and the Trojans are keeping their eyes on the prize.

“We still want to win our league,” Garretson said. “We’ve won it six times in a row and these guys don’t want to be the group that ends the streak. We also still want to go to state, but mostly we just want to win the next game we play and that’s where we’re at.”

That next game will come on Thursday evening as the Trojans travel to Salina for a remote home doubleheader against Smoky Valley starting at 3:00.