The Siena Heights baseball team will open up the 2016-17 baseball season in a way only one other conference has known before, with countable fall baseball. The Saints will open their season at home when they take on Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference foe Madonna. The opening pitch is set for 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, for two nine-inning games. On Sunday, the Saints will face Madonna in a solo nine-inning contest at 12 p.m.
Siena Heights will travel to Lawrence Tech for the first time on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2, for a 1 p.m. first pitch on both days.
SEASON OUTLOOK -- with Head Coach John Kolasinski
The Siena Heights baseball team is set to embark on a historic journey for Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference baseball, opening the 2016-17 season on Saturday, Sept. 24, against No. 22 Madonna.
"Expectations are always to make the conference tournament and win the conference," says head coach John Kolasinski. "How you attain that goal is what I think is changing, which we'll find out here in the next three weeks how it's done."
"It's a very unique situation where you go into conference and we haven't played any games. You're still looking for things, like who is going to "win" the position. The goal is the same as always, just how we attain that goal will be different."
Kolasinski explains that positions are still up for grabs, but he has a few players that hold valuable experience for the team. "Freddy Jehle, Carson Wlad and Matthew Bondy are our everyday players. They each bring valuable experience in the positions they play."
One of SHU's top returners is junior shortstop Jehle. The Troy, Mich. native started all 53 games for the Saints, earning a .307 batting average and a .376 slugging percentage. He earned a .392 on base percentage after 189 at bats, with 58 hits and 23 walks. Jehle finished the season with 89 putouts and 151 assists, earning a .930 fielding percentage.
Another key returner for SHU is sophomore third baseman Bondy. He started in 47 of the 49 games he played in the 2016 season. Bondy earned a .261 batting average and a .392 slugging percentage.
"The interesting thing in the fall will be how far pitchers can go in the games. A big part of pitching is building arm strength and I don't think anybody knows how far their pitchers can go."
On the mound, the Saints bring back Kyle Kuhr Reid Olmstead and Chris McKiddie to add quality experience to the Saints rotation. Kuhr, senior right-handed pitcher, finished last season 3-5. McKiddie, junior right-hander, went 1-5 for SHU while Olmstead, sophomore right-hander, went 0-3. Olmstead has grown steadily in the program, starting last season on the junior varsity squad and worked into the varsity rotation by the end of the season.
With fall baseball there will be a lot of opportunities to get playing time as the Saints try to prove their starting positions. Some key newcomers to the varsity squad will be Jake Jones (Jr.) and Emmanuel Gimenez (Fr.), both catchers. Other impactful players will be junior James Boice and sophomore Brenden Baker at second base. Snyder Torres and Ryley Overacker look for some playing time as well.
"A key to success now is to have a deep team. When you're playing different people to find out who should play that position, the club that has the most talent will probably come out of the fall season in first place in the WHAC."
The Saints look for their first season and conference victory when they host Madonna on Saturday.