By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
The baseball preview for the Windham Bombers’ 2023 season:
Head Coach: Jake Eye, 2nd year, 10-6 career record.
Coaching Staff: Eliot Pennel, Mike Walters, Eliot Thompson.
2022 Record: 10-6 overall, 10-5 Northeastern Athletic Conference.
Returning Lettermen (8): Chase Eye, sr.; Wyatt Hanshaw, sr.; Lucas Churchill, sr.; Anthony Paolella, jr.; Jack Eye, soph.; Dylan McCune, soph.; Jordan Smithberger, soph.; Brian King, soph.
Lettermen Lost (3): Miki Jones, Landon Stanley, Camdyn Hoskin.
Team Captains: Lucas Churchill, Wyatt Hanshaw, Chase Eye.
Underclassmen to Watch: Gavin Kiser, fresh.; Jordan Ridenbaugh, fresh; Louden Collins, fresh.
Jack Eye: .600 average, 21 RBI, 22 runs, 19 stolen bases, 3 pitching wins
Wyatt Hanshaw: .574 average, 31 hits, 8 doubles, 14 RBI, 27 runs, 16 stolen bases
Chase Eye: .532 average, 25 hits, 5 doubles, 24 RBI, 21 runs, 15 stolen bases
Lucas Churchill: .474 average
Dylan McCune: 12 stolen bases.
Brian King: 1.83 earned-run average.
“We are very optimistic about the upcoming season,” head coach Jake Eye said. “Our numbers have increased over last year, including some promising newcomers. We are still a young team, but our standards are high as the goals still remain to contend for a conference title and make a run at the district crown.”
Senior Chase Eye, coming off tremendous senior football and basketball seasons, will be the leader across the Bombers’ infield.
Eye will play multiple positions and will also spend time on the mound.
“He is extremely athletic, with a big arm from the mound and as a catcher. We are looking for him to have another outstanding season,” Eye said.
Senior Wyatt Hanshaw is still recovering from a torn ACL (football), but once he is returns to the lineup, he is a big piece for the Bombers.
“He has hard shoes to fill early, but once back, he is as good as it gets both ways,” Eye said.
Hanshaw will anchor Windham’s middle infield and will bat leadoff.
Sophomore Jack Eye will also play multiple positions, including first base, shortstop and catcher, while also serving as the team’s ace on the mound.
“Jack is a year bigger and stronger,” Eye said. “He is a very dynamic player with his aggressiveness, and he is an extremely tough out at the plate.”
Sophomore Jordan Smithberger will start at third base and will also be a go-to pitcher.
“Jordan is a player with a smooth glove and a strong arm,” Eye said. “He has the ability to shut down the hot corner.”
Sophomore Brian King is the team’s starting first baseman when Jack Eye is pitching. King will also be a leader on the pitching staff.
“Brian is a big, tall kid that has made great strides since joining us a year ago,” Eye said. “He is really passionate about the game, so we are excited to see his progression this season.”
Another sophomore, Dylan McCune, will play a lot of second base and will also catch and pitch.
“Dylan is another player who has a knack for the game and is capable of having a big season for us,” Eye said. “He started for us as a freshman and gained valuable experience.”
Freshmen Jordan Ridenbaugh and Gavin Kiser have shown during preseason workouts to be promising pieces that could make an impact this season.
“Both are eager to learn and are very coachable,” Eye said. “Both have the ability to be everyday starters as infielders or outfielders and they have shown the ability to pitch effectively, as well.”
Senior Lucas Churchill will play centerfield largely, but can play either left or right field.
“Lucas is a tall, athletic player with good speed. He has the capability to track balls in the gap,” Eye said. “He had a nice offensive season for us a year ago. We will need him to have another season similar to last year.”
Junior Anthony Paolella will start in right field.
“He is our only upperclassmen that plays summer travel baseball and it has proven helpful, as he has shown big strides in his swing and footwork,” Eye said. “We are looking to move him into a more significant role offensively.”
Juniors Aidan McMillin, Santiago Perez and Tadeas Smrcka, along with sophomores Jacob Cody and Austin Cales and freshman Louden Collins will all vie for time in the outfield.
“All have shown promising starts and have worked extremely hard,” Eye said. “All have been very receptive to learning and have picked up the game very well. We are excited to see their progress.”
Jack and Chase Eye will lead the pitching staff.
Both have great command and a multitude of pitches.
“They have increased velocity tremendously from a year ago,” Eye said.
Smithberger and King will also likely provide significant efforts. Both are command-style pitches and have the ability to throw any pitch in any count.
“Both had good seasons a year ago, so we look for them to build on that,” Eye said.
When Wyatt becomes cleared, he will also be a significant force for the Bombers on the mound, according to Eye.
“We have a great core of upperclassmen mixed in with some promising newcomers and underclassmen that have all bought in and have worked very diligently in getting better each day,” Eye said. “We feel our pitching staff is much improved, and we have plenty of offensive weapons to build on the success of last year.”
“With one of our best defenders and top hitters (Hanshaw) out for the first half of the season, we will need to fill that void,” Eye said. “Although numbers are better, we are still only around 16 or 17 players so injuries are always a concern, along with sore arms. We will also need to sure up our defense from a year ago if we want to contend for a conference title.”
March 27: vs. Saint John
March 29: vs. Badger
March 30: vs. Saint John
March 31: at Mathews
April 3: at Maplewood
April 5: vs. Southington Chalker
April 10: at Pymatuning Valley
April 12: at Bristol
April 14: vs. Fairport Harding
April 17: at Southington Chalker
April 18: at Lordstown
April 20: vs. Garfield
April 21: vs. Lordstown
April 26: at Saint John
May 1: vs. Bristol
May 2: vs. Agape Christian Academy
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