Confidence brewing on the Elmwood baseball field


BLOOMDALE — There is a lot of confidence brewing around the Elmwood baseball field this spring, which has opened the season 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Blanchard Valley Conference.

“We are a young and very talented ballclub,” said ace pitcher Jimmie Palmer. “I think it relies on the energy that we bring.

“If we are bringing our A-plus energy, I truly don’t know how many teams can beat us. I truly believe we are a very well-coached ballclub with a lot of talent.”

While Palmer already has two complete game victories in the books, first-year coach Matt Melecha says the Royals can throw a veteran pitcher at opponents any day of the week.

“Andrew Holland would be another guy that we are going to look to take the ball in big games. Andrew has very good stuff and when he’s in the zone, he is very dominant,” Malecha said.

“We have two other seniors who will give us depth at the end of our rotation in Tanner Shaffer, who pitched a good amount last year, and Luke Armbruster, who doesn’t have a whole lot of innings under his belt from last year, but he’s really put in work and he looked very good in the preseason.

“I think those four guys right now are probably going to get the ball for us every week as starters.”

During an 8-1 win over West Geauga in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Armbruster struck out nine, walked five, allowed two hits and one earned run in six innings. Junior Zachery Gross pitched one scoreless inning, striking out the side, which showcases where his non-senior hurlers are at.

“Then we have some really good guys on the back end of the bullpen that are just coming off winter sports, kind of building up their arms and once they are able to stretch out a little more, I really think as far as pitching depth we have eight guys who can take the ball in any situation and be competitive for us,” Malecha said.

Most of Malecha’s lineup returns with strong bats, too.

“We have five guys who come back with a lot of that batting experience. That would start with the guy at the top of our lineup, Kam Kingery.

“He’s a senior and somebody who can do a lot of different things for us as far as get on base, also hit for power, he has experience as a senior as somebody who has played a lot of varsity baseball.

“Jimmie Palmer is somebody who, along with pitching, he really thinks that his bat is at a place that I would say he’s happy with.

“I don’t think he thought he had a great offensive season last year — that is his own words, but he’s put in a lot of work to get better and he’s another guy who we think can do a lot of things for us offensively as well as on the mound.

“Andrew Holland is probably the guy who is the best bat returnee. He swung it well all-preseason and (against Huron) he had some great at-bats.

“Another senior is Luke Armbruster returns a lot of at-bats and a lot of experience, and he’ll be a middle of the order guy.

“The last guy who comes back with a lot of experience would be junior catcher Colton Bradford. He played a lot of varsity last year and he played some varsity as a freshman, so although he’s a junior he has as much experience as almost anybody else on the roster.”

In a 5-1 season opening win over Huron, Palmer went 2-for-3 and Stewart, Kingery, Armbruster, and Bradford had base hits, and Kingery had two stolen bases.

Filling out the roster are players who have already proven themselves, but some at the varsity level and some at the junior varsity level.

“Those are the guys at the top of the lineup who return a lot of experience, and then we have some newcoming juniors who I think will help us offensively,” Malecha said.

“One would be Aden Alva, another would be Zach Gross, and Aidan Marsh is another junior that we expect to find a spot in our lineup. Two other guys who I think will battle for some at-bats will be senior Owen Simmons and junior Cadyn Stewart.

“We have a good mix of guys who have a lot of experience and guys who had success last year as a JV, so we basically translate that to varsity success, we have some depth in our lineup for sure.”

In the win over West Geauga, Palmer was 2-for-3 with a double and four RBI, Kingery was 2-for-3 with four stolen bases, Armbruster was 2-for-3, Bradford doubled, and Stewart, Gross, Simmons, and Alva had base hits.

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