2022 Spring Preview: Waynesville Baseball

By Chris Parker

Waynesville enters the third season on the Tyler Shalbot era looking for the program’s first season with double-digit wins since 2016. The Tigers finished 4-19 last year.

“We gained a lot of experience last season that will hopefully help us this season,” Shalbot said. “Missing that season due to COVID two years ago made it tough on everyone, and I am hoping we just get back to normal. We had a lot of team speed last season and were able to steal a lot of bases and put some pressure on teams. We hope to be able to duplicate that this season.”

Senior Central Methodist commit Blake Althuisius will be a leader for Waynesville in every facet. He is the team’s lone returning all-conference player after being the top hitter and pitcher for Waynesville last year. Althuisius hit .272 with a .427 on-base percentage including 14 stolen bases and 12 runs scored. He won two of Waynesville’s four games on the mound with 41 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings pitched. Althuisius will be in the outfield when not pitching.

Fellow seniors Jarret Sahr (pitcher/utility), Aidan McFarland (infield/pitcher) and Isaiah Smith (utility) will round out the leadership core for Waynesville. Sahr threw 21 2/3 innings last year leading the team with a 3.87 ERA. McFarland was an Academic All-State selection last year. Smith can play most anywhere for the Tigers.

Juniors Zacari Emperato, Creed Jones, Zachary Hale, Peyton Breeden and Weslee Dye will join Althuisius and Sahr in the pitching rotation.

Davin Vernon and Blake Holloway will each see time behind the plate at catcher.

“Davin is a good leader and has really improved over the past year,” Shalbot said. “Holloway is a very athletic kid who can play a variety of positions.”

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Hunter Althusius, Emperato, Hale and Sahr will all be in the mix for time on the infield. Jones, Emperato, Holloway, Smith, Eli Griffin and Blake Althuisius are all candidates to see time in the outfield.

“We need to improve in all aspects of the game,” Shalbot said. “Last season we really struggled offensively especially with runners in scoring position and our contact percentage. Defensively we have to make the routine plays and try commit fewer errors this season. Pitching has to be more consistent and throw more strikes.”

Waynesville opens the season on Mar. 18 at home against Conway.

“We have a great group of players and we just hope to continue to improve throughout the season and be playing our best baseball come May,” Shalbot said.

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