Morrisville finished under .500 last year at 9-15, but won the Class 2 District 13 championship before falling to eventual Class 2 Final Four participant Skyline in the sectional round.
Expect that overall record to improve this year after the Panthers finished 12-4 in the fall and return a strong group of pitchers.
“I think our experience with our returning pitching staff will be our biggest strength. We have our full staff back from last season,” Morrisville coach Justin Crumpley said.
Senior Hadden Grant along with juniors Joshua Bumgarner and Braden Grant will lead the pitching staff. Hadden Grant threw 42 innings and struck out 62 batters while posting a 4.50 ERA. Bumgarner was second on the team with 34 innings pitched and 47 strikeouts with a 4.32 ERA. Braden Grant threw one out shy of 12 total innings with 12 strikeouts.
That pitching staff will look for a stronger performance from the defense this season.
“We repeatedly hurt ourselves last year defensively,” Crumpley said. “We need to be much better making routine plays on the infield this spring to help our pitching staff out.”
Hadden Grant, who led the team with a .474 batting average and 11 home runs while driving in 27 runs, will be one of the key infielders when not pitching along with sophomore Dylan Blehm. Austin Francka and Braden Grant will be the top outfielders.
Overall, Morrisville is hoping to take the next step in the state playoffs after winning back-to-back district titles and falling in the state sectional round.
“We have won districts the last two years in a row, but fell short in the sectional game both years. We are obviously looking to build upon that and take the next step forward. For this season to be a success is as simple as learning to be unselfish, put our teammates first, and try to find a way for each individual to help the team win every day,” Crumpley said.
Morrisville opens the season on Mar. 15 at Fair Play.