MADISON COUNTY —
“This is the best group of catchers I’ve coached,” Stein said. “We literally could start any of the three guys, that’s not usually the case.”
Those three are Hagen, Steve Ferraro and John Wilson. Hagen has had the bulk of the work. He handles the staff very well. Ferraro, a junior, had a great fall but is recovering from a late-fall injury. Wilson, a sophomore, is athletic and may have the best arm on the team.
Hughes will move from the designated hitter role to the starter at first base. The senior has power and experience. Soloman will anchor the left side of the infield at third base. He’s a middle of the order hitter and a solid defender. Matt Phipps is set to start at shortstop. The senior had a great fall, committing only one error.
There’s a battle brewing at second base between a pair of freshmen. Doug Teagarden, a two-time all-state selection, hits from the left side. Kenny Hostrander, a right-hander, is also a two-time all-state honoree.
“Doug had a great fall, but Kenny has had a great preseason,” said Stein. “We’re going to let them continue to battle it out even after the season starts”
Freshman Luke Wurzelbacher can play throughout the infield and will see time as a defensive replacement late in games.
“This is the best outfield, defensively, that I’ve coached during my time at Eastern,” Stein said. “It’s anchored by senior center fielder Austin Grisham, probably the best center fielder in our conference.”
Grisham led the squad last season with 16 stolen bases. He was second with a .320 average and 23 multi-hit games.
Freshman Kyle Nowlin will start in right field. He can run, hit for power and is a great defender. Demetrius Moorer will start in left field.
The sophomore can hit at the top of the order. He can create with his speed both offensively and defensively.
Senior Shaun Ball hits from the left side and can play all three outfield spots.
Freshman TJ Alas had a great preseason and has put pressure on the corner outfielders because of what he can do at the plate.
“We could be a better defensive team than last year,” said Stein. “We had a good fall defensively. The freshmen who will play are absolutely not defensive liabilities. We’re really strong up the middle with three solid catchers, Phipps at short and Grisham the best center fielder in the league. It might be the best we’ve had in my time at EKU.”