By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Jim Julian looks to have settled back into his alma mater with plenty of comfort.
The returning Falcon kept Glendale on its winning track in 2018, helping them put together its second straight 20-win campaign including a 16-2 midseason stretch. They also took home the Ozark Conference championship and the league’s Coach, Pitcher, and Position Player of the Year honors.
What lingers is a 4-3 loss to Kickapoo in the district title game, and it’s been an easy source of motivation this offseason.
“We had success last year but didn’t end the way we wanted to, obviously,” said Julian. “That’s made us a little hungrier in the offseason. The guys that we have coming back have a taste of that district championship game, so getting back there has been their mindset since early in the fall.”
Glendale returns six starters and eight letterman, not to mention a deep senior class of 11 players. Missouri commit Ty Wilmsmeyer leads the bunch and is ready to build off his junior campaign as the Ozark Conference Position Player of the Year. He returns as the Falcons’ leader in virtually every category on the mound and at the plate. He drove in 29 runs on 46 hits with a .447 average and 10 stolen bases in 2018.
He also put together a 3-2 record as a pitcher with a 1.60 ERA, the best numbers on the staff after the departure of Ethan Paschke, now at Missouri Southern.
“(Wilmsmeyer) leads by example. He’s always working on all aspects of his game somewhere,” said Julian. “We’ll look to him to pace the offense and, with (Paschke’s) graduation, he’ll probably move into that No. 1 role.”
Max Elmer, Thomas Brand, and Jack Hamlin return for their senior campaigns after all earning conference honors. Brand was also an All-State Honorable Mention as a junior while Elmer is committed to play at Drury. Each had a batting average over .400 in 2018.
Hamlin added 34 hits and 11 RBI and expects to find himself platooning third base or the outfield this spring.
Gaeton Martino, another senior, will slot into center field, while classmates Reese Bassett, Sam Beatty, Sam Hornberger, and Josh Horsey will figure into the mix for time at the corner infield positions.
Timothy Glenn will join Wilmsmeyer at the top of the rotation after a Second Team All-Conference honor as a sophomore. He put together a 3-0 record with a 2.70 ERA last year.
Fellow juniors Charlie Woodworth and David Wells will also earn some innings.
Who they will throw to remains a question mark as the catching job is up for grabs. Seniors Braden Aaron and Dante Welcome will compete with junior Turner Jackson for those duties.
Julian would like to see how new additions to the pitching staff will respond in the early part of the year as he considers the defense a question mark. Replacing this much talent is never an easy task, but that is ultimately what the Falcons must do if they wish to reach their first state tournament since 2005.
“We’ve got guys that we’ve got confidence in that had good summers,” said Julian. “They’ll throw strikes, but we’ll just have to play defense behind them. That was the key to our success last year. You just wonder how guys with not as many varsity innings will handle stepping into those roles. ”