The Marionville Comets enter the 2017 baseball season with a new coach at the helm and an SBU signee leading the way on the field.
Jason Grose takes the place of Jamie LaSalle, who left last summer to become the head football coach at East Newton High School.
Grose will be tasked with replacing multiple starters in the lineup, including a trio of all-conference performers in Jacob LaSalle (First Team All-Mid Lakes/utility), Ryan Smith (HM All-Mid Lakes/catcher) and Waylon Davis (HM All-Mid Lakes/infield).
The cornerstone of Marionville’s team will be senior Aaron Head, who has committed to play at SBU. He was a first team all-league pitcher last season.
On the mound, Head posted 64 2/3 innings pitched, with 45 hits allowed, 71 strikeouts to 22 walks and a 0.98 ERA.
At the plate, he hit .389 with 28 RBIs and 10 steals.
“Aaron will be our ace (pitcher), starting shortstop when he’s not pitching, and most likely hit 3rd,” Grose said.
Two additional all-league seniors return alongside Head.
Cole Brown, who was Marionville’s starting point guard in the winter, will likely patrol centerfield. He was First Team All-Mid Lakes last season, hitting .441 with 13 RBIs, 25 runs and swiping 21 steals in 22 attempts. He can also pitch.
“Cole will start in center, probably hit leadoff, and provide innings in relief,” Grose said.
The third senior is Michael Mays, who received honorable mention all-league honors (utility) last season. Mays (.312 BA, 11 RBIs) will likely be the team’s starting third baseman and No. 2 pitcher in the rotation.
Several underclassmen are in contention for starting spots.
Ryan Mayberry is a transfer from Aurora. Mayberry, a junior, will likely start in the outfield and hit somewhere in the middle of Marionville’s batting order.
Grose sees sophomore Evan Dotson likely starting at catcher and sophomore Ty Davis starting at first base while hitting middle-order.
Sophomores Wesley Breedlove and Earnie Larkin are in contention for starting spots in the middle infield. Larkin will be an occasional starting pitcher.
Sophomore Gavin Stanton is a utility player who can played in the infield or outfield. Junior Levi Doyle will split time between the outfield and mound.
The Comets finished 14-12 overall last season, losing 2-1 to Galena in their district championship game.
Marionville’s district (Class 2 District 11) also features Billings, Blue Eye, Crane, Galena and New Covenant Academy.