West Nodaway’s baseball program will have a new leader in 2018 with new head coach Jake Sunderman taking the reins of the program which finished last season with a 5-14 record.
“I’m pretty excited since last year I was able to be the assistant coach and I got some experience there,” Sunderman said. “I’ve been the junior high assistant coach too, so I know a lot of the kids from there.”
The transition has been minimal.
“He was the assistant last year so some of the stuff is the same,” West Nodaway coach David Hull said of Sunderman. “I like the two other assistant coaches too (Lucas Blum and Matt Peacher).”
Sunderman inherits a strong group of upperclassmen led by 2017 all-conference selections Hull, Cody Galyan and Korbin Koch.
“We bring back a lot of experience,” Sunderman said. “We are broken up pretty evenly with four players in each class for our 16 total players. We have a lot of experience because we had a lot of younger kids start last year. Once they start playing well and the offense gets clicking we are a pretty tough team to play.”
That trio formed the 2-4 spots in the Rocket batting order last season.
“I’m pretty excited having most of the same team from last year,” Koch said. “Everyone is making improvements from last season and in the practices we’ve had this year, you’ve seen a lot of improvement.”
Koch batted second and manned the hot-corner at third base last season. The junior also pitched and worked to improve in the offseason as a member of the Northwest All-Star squad this summer.
“Personally, I’ve worked a lot on my pitching,” Koch said. “It has improved a lot since last year.”
Behind Koch in the order was shortstop David Hull. Hull was a major threat as a base stealer and at the plate last season for the Rockets.
Being a Class 1 school, many of the core of athletes is the same that ones that played basketball and football.
“It is pretty nice because you get to know everyone and you can almost predict what they are going to do,” Hull said. “It is just a lot more fun.”
West Nodaway will sport a familiar battery on opening day with Galyan returning as the team’s top pitcher and junior Parker Ogle returning behind the plate. Ogle was also the team’s leadoff hitter last season.
“We bring all of our pitchers back from last year,” Sunderman said. “We have a good group
Other key returners for the sophomore Jacob Flint, who played second base last season, and senior Dustin Riddle.
With all the experience, Sunderman is setting high goals for his Rockets.
“My expectations for the team are that we want to go at least .500 and have a winning season,” Sunderman said. “Looking at the rest of conference, I think the conference is wide open so another one for me is to win conference for sure. Looking at our district, we have East Atchison and St. Joseph Christian are going to be pretty good, but I think both of them are pretty beatable. I think that we could win conference and our district too.”