Warriors ready to explode with offense

Staff writer

The Marion Senior Babe Ruth team reached a turning point in its season June 16 against Abilene in Marion.

“Me and Mike (Jeffrey) told them this is the time we need to come back,” Marion Head Coach Tyler Mermis said.

The Warriors were down 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Abe Eldridge pinch hit to lead off the inning and hit a 3-2, down-the-middle fastball, into deep right center for a triple.

“Abe has really quick hands,” Mermis said.

Corey Seacat was the next Marion batter and he hit a ball to the opposing shortstop, who bobbled the ball on an attempt to throw to the plate and Eldridge scored the tying run.

Colton Olsen advanced Seacat to second on a ground out to short. Then Marshall Ragland stepped to the plate and got a fastball down the middle that he ripped up the middle into center field and allowed Seacat to score from second for the winning run of the game.

The Warriors are now 5-3 on the season with games Tuesday in Hillsboro.

Ragland is an example of a player who has transformed during the summer season.

Mermis said that Marshall Ragland has been off to a torrid start. The Marion High School graduate struggled during the high school season, but has taken off as the weather warmed. He went 6-8 from the plate in two games against Abilene.

Fellow outfielder Cole Lewman was a steady player during the high school season; he finished the season as one of Marion’s top six hitters, but Mermis said that Lewman has blossomed with more playing time.

“Last year he struggled quite a bit,” Mermis said of Lewman. “This year starting in high school he was the type of guy who needs to be playing outfield and hitting all the time. He was diving for balls in the outfield and he had his first career home run in high school.”

David Helmer did not receive a lot of playing time in the spring. Brian Fruechting had been a mainstay at first and at the plate. Now that Fruechting is playing with a traveling team in Topeka. Helmer has shown what he can do at the plate.

“He’s produced quite a bit for us,” Mermis said. “He plays solid defense at first base.”

Tommy Tachjman has been another player who has gotten a chance to play in the summer and who has impressed at the plate. Tajchman was 2-for-2 in the first game against Abilene.

“He’s had a few good hits,” Mermis said.

Oddly enough, the players who hit well for the Warriors during the season had to adjust to the drop off in pitching Marion has seen this summer. Graduates Wil Case and Olsen have started slow but Mermis thinks the team is all starting to hit after the sweep of Abilene June 16.

“I never count these guys out,” Mermis said.

The Warriors have also gotten good production from Heath Hill from Centre High School.

“He has an incredible ability to pitch,” Mermis said of Hill. “When he’s locked on, he’s pretty deadly on the mound.”

Dakin Ledford, who ran track during the spring, has also been a welcome addition to the summer baseball squad.

“He’s got one heck of an arm from the outfield,” Mermis said. “If his heart is in track, that’s what he should do, but if he came to me, I wouldn’t turn him down.”

Marion has gotten steady pitching from Ragland, Hill, Olsen, and Case and the return of Eldridge, who shares time at catcher with Matt Sprowls, and Seacat, at shortstop, has solidified the defense.

The Warriors are brimming with depth, which may make tryouts for the high school team next year especially intense.

“We’ll have our hands full,” Mermis said of the job ahead of him and Jeffrey next spring.

Game 1 — Seacat 1-4, BB; Olsen 2-4; Sprowls 0-4, BB; Case 2-4; Ragland 3-4; Helmer 1-3; Hill 1-1; Ethan Hett 1-4; Lewman: 3-4 HBP; Eldridge 2-4; Tajchman 2-2; Evan Slater 0-0, HBP

Game 2 — Seacat 2-4; Olsen 2-4; Ragland 3-4; Case 2-4; Lewman 0-3; Helmer 0-3; Hill 1-3; Hett 0-3; Sprowls 0-3, 2 BB; Eldridge 1-1, 3B; Ragland 5 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 4 ER; Olsen: 2 IP, 1 BB. Case save, 2 BB, 2 K .

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