By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
2019 was a banner year for Glendale baseball.
The 22-8 Falcons captured the program’s first district title since 2005 and reached the Class 5 quarterfinals, falling 4-2 to Willard.
Head coach Jim Julian praised his veteran team for its resilient nature.
“The thing that I liked the best about the 2019 team is the fact that they never gave up,” Julian said. “We came from behind in the district championship game as well as several other games last season. They had a never say die attitude and we often broke through late in games because those guys just kept pressing and pushing.”
Nine graduated seniors depart the program, including a pair of all-state selections in pitcher Ty Wilmsmeyer and infielder Max Elmer.
“Ty was one of those players that doesn’t come along very often in a program,” Julian said. “He was a bulldog on the mound and wanted the ball in every big game and got it. Max had a tremendous season for us offensively and defensively. He changed games with his bat and his glove.”
Additional graduates included Thomas Brand. Sam Hornberger, Jack Horsey, Geatan Martino, Breadon Aaron, Jack Hamlin and Reese Bassett.
Wilmsmeyer (University of Missouri), Elmer (Drury University) and Brand (State Fair Community College) have continued their respective baseball careers at the collegiate level.
“We graduated a lot from that 2019 team, but the guys that we have returning learned from the Willard game that attention to detail is very important,” Julian said. “We have always preached that, but in that game and especially against quality teams like the ones that we play on a regular basis really expose you or make you pay if you don’t pay attention to even the smallest of details.”
The 2020 Falcons will be led by a pair of returning seniors in pitcher/shortstop Timothy Glenn and pitcher/outfielder David Wells.
Both players were all-conference and all-district selections in 2019.
“Timothy will be one of our top starting pitchers this spring,” Julian said. “He is a very athletic player that competes really well on the mound and can play a variety of other positions. David will also be one of our top starting pitchers this spring. He is an even-keeled pitcher that doesn’t get too up or down.”
Glendale’s returning cast also includes senior catcher/infielder Charlie Woodworth, junior pitcher/infielder Isaac Wells, senior pitcher/infielder Tommy Carr, senior catcher/infielder Turner Jackson, junior pitcher/outfielder Zach Beatty and junior pitcher/infielder William McDonald.
With a host of open roster positions available this spring, several newcomers to the Falcons’ varsity roster will compete for playing time including Matthew Kellerstrass, Tyler McLallen, Alex Tarter, Bryce Clark, Kent Lockhart, Carson Wade, Justin Letterman, Andrew Clemons and Jude Burch.
“We graduated a lot from our 2019 lineup,” Julian said. “That being said, we have a lot of positions that are wide open for competition. When it all shakes out, I think we will have above average team speed and have guys that will give opposing teams headaches with our relentless approach and speed.”
In addition to a wealth of team speed, Julian believes pitching quality and depth will be advantages for the Falcons this season.
“I think that pitching will be one of our strengths this year,” Julian said. “We return two starters from last season in Timothy Glenn and David Wells. They pitched in big games last season for us and return quality leadership and experience. We have some newcomers that got a few varsity innings last season as well. Zach Beatty, Isaac Wells, Charlie Woodworth, and Tommy Carr among others will be expected to log quality innings for us this spring.”
Ultimately, Glendale’s success may be determined by how quickly new faces are able to adjust to new roles and the rigors of varsity competition.
“We have ten seniors, but they are largely varsity inexperienced,” Julian said. “There are several, like Glenn and Wells, that were a huge part of last year’s team, but mostly we are pretty varsity inexperienced. That being said, the rate at which we adjust to varsity level pitching and the speed of the game will be our biggest x-factor. I think we will have a solid pitching staff and we will be a very gritty, and hard-nosed team.”
Julian — entering his third season with Glendale — will reach the 300-win milestone this season with seven victories.
Glendale opens its season with a home double-header on Saturday, March 21, against Carthage and Verdigris, Okla.