HANOVER, Ind. - With official practice underway and the first games of 2018 less than a month away, we will take a look at the upcoming Hanover baseball team. Over the next three weeks, we will examine this year's squad by position, starting with the infielders.
After last year's team made a five-win improvement from the previous year, expectations are for this year's team to continue it's move up the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standings.
The infield should be a strength this year as all four starters return after posting strong seasons a year ago. Those four starters combined to hit .320, score 48.5% of the team's runs (112) and drive in 84, which accounted for 43.1% of the team total.
Three-year starter, and senior, Jack Shine (New Albany, Ind.) is back for his final year in a Panther uniform after becoming an all-conference selection for the second straight year in 2017. Shine led the team in hits (52), home runs (5), triples, (2), average (.356) and slugging (.541) and was second in runs scored (35), RBI (27) and on-base percentage (.428).
Joining Shine on the left side of the infield will be sophomore Spencer Coop (Lexington, Ky.). Coop made an instant impact as a freshman as he started 37 of the team's 38 games and hit .301 in 146 at-bats. As a freshman he scored 26 runs, drove in 18 and stole eight bases in 10 attempts.
Both Shine and Coop have the ability to play both shortstop and third base and could see time at each position in 2018.
The right side of the infield will feature a pair of two-year starters in juniors Ty Stover (Galveston, Ind.) and Chase Sizemore (Fishers, Ind.). Over the last two seasons, Sizemore has been the team's primary second baseman and has posted a .311 average in 254 career at-bats. The junior middle-infielder posted a .299 average last year with 22 runs scored, 17 RBI and a .365 on-base percentage.
After becoming the team's regular first baseman midway through his freshman season, Stover also brings a .311 career average into 2018. In 140 at-bats last year, he tied for second on the team with a .321 average and led the team in doubles (11) and RBI (29). He was also third in runs scored (29), slugging (.443) and on-base percentage (.416).
While those four expected to see the bulk of the time, head coach Shayne Stock will also have a sophomore and a group of freshmen ready to provide depth and competition throughout the season. With the amount of experience returning this spring, the Panthers infield should once again provide the team with strong offensive and defensive production.
Hanover's season is scheduled to begin Sunday, February 25 as the Panthers take their annual winter break trip to Auburndale, Fla. The team will open with a split doubleheader against Capital (Ohio) and Augustana (Ill.). Next week's preview will take a look at the team's outfielders for 2018.
Contact: Mike Pritchard