The North Nodaway baseball team dealt with a lot of changes the last time it took the field. With the year hiatus also came a coaching change for the Mustangs with the departure of long-time coach Jake Shipman.
“New coaches to use aren’t a big dealing us anymore,” North Nodaway senior Cody Cline said. “In football, we have a new coach every year there so we are getting good at adapting to them I’d say.”
Cody Jenkins is stepping into Shipman’s shoes and looking to continue to rebuild the program which won 10 games in 2017, but just two in 2018 and four in 2019.
“It has gone great,” Jenkins said. “All these kids are eager to get back out here after taking last year off. They are eager to get back out here, get a baseball in their hand, get a glove on their hand and just get back outside.
“To just get outside and see baseball back in this area again is great for everybody.”
The Mustangs have 19 players out for baseball this year.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what all of our kids can do,” Jenkins said. “They are all improving day to day and drill to drill.”
Jenkins will have the advantage of several key returners, including two of the team’s top three hitters, from two years ago.
Senior Jordan Jenkins batted .314 as a sophomore and reached base at a .417 clip.
Senior Karson Oberhauser returns as one of the team’s most experienced players and batted .300 as a sophomore. He had four doubles and a triple that season.
“We had pretty high expectations last year and then we didn’t get to play, but I think we have just as high of expectations this year if not higher,” Oberhauser said.
Aside from Jenkins and Oberhauser, seniors Cody Cline and Andrew Blackford also come back as experienced players.
“We have a lot of young guys, but I think some of us out here just really want to play since we didn’t have the chance to last year,” Cline said.
Cline has a .290 on-base percentage as a sophomore while Blackford got on base at a .245 clip.
“I’ve been working a lot on catching,” Cline said.
Blackford is the team’s most experienced pitcher returning. He threw 12 1/3 innings as a sophomore and had a 7.38 earned run average. Jordan Jenkins also saw time on the mound.
Freshman Aydan Blackford will also likely be featured prominently on the mound.
“We think we have 10 pitchers who have the capability of pitching some varsity or J.V. innings,” Cody Jenkins said.
The Mustangs feel that their versatility will be a strength this season.
North Nodaway is slated to have its home opener on Tuesday against Stewartsville/Osborn.
“Win,” Oberhauser said when asked what his goals were for this season.