HANOVER, Ind. - In the final segment of our three-part preview of the 2018 Hanover baseball team, we complete the series by taking a look at the team's pitchers and catchers for the upcoming season.
The Panthers return 73.8% of the team's innings on the mound from a year ago led by junior David Herrmann (Fishers, Ind.). Herrmann tied for seventh in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference with five wins, and also ranked among the top three in the league in innings pitched (3rd - 81.1), earned run average (3rd - 2.43), complete games (2nd - 4) and starts (tied 1st - 12). Through two seasons, the junior has proven to be one of the top pitchers in the league and has tallied a 3.13 ERA in 143.2 career innings.
Returning along with Herrmann is fellow junior Garett Zorb (Medina, Ohio). After throwing 13.1 innings as a freshman, Zorb started 10 games and recorded a 2-3 record in 52.1 innings as a sophomore, including five starts of two runs or less in at least five innings of work.
Another pair of junior hurlers in David Blanco (Fishers, Ind.) and Braydan Luce (Avon, Ind.) combined for 21 appearances out of the bullpen last year. Blanco posted a 3-4 record with 28 strikeouts in 36 innings in his first year as a Panther, while Luce finished his sophomore season strong and tallied 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings of relief.
A trio of sophomores will also return after gaining a year of experience in 2017. Tanner Simpson (Mitchell, Ind.) appeared in 11 games, started six, and compiled 38.2 innings of work. Zach Chapman (Loveland, Ohio) saw action in nine games and recorded one of the team's two saves on the season, while David Jung (West Chester, Ohio) made a pair of starts in four appearances in his first collegiate season.
Hanover Head Coach Shayne Stock will also have a handful of freshmen pitchers that are expected to contribute this season and add valuable depth to the pitching staff.
Behind the plate, the Panthers return one of the top catchers in the HCAC in junior Tyler Fitch (Crestwood, Ky.). An all-conference selection for the first time in 2017, Fitch tied for third on the team in average (.321) and also finished with a .403 on-base percentage. The third-year backstop was fourth on the team with 42 hits and third with 22 RBI in 131 at-bats.
Sophomore Brayden Imel (Barbourville, Ky.) and a pair of freshmen will join Fitch in competing for time behind the plate.
With six starters back from last year's line-up along with a pitching staff that is expected to improve on last year's performance, hopes are high for the 2018 Hanover baseball team as they look to compete for a berth in the HCAC Tournament this spring.
The Panthers will officially open the season Sunday, February 25 when they play Augustana (Ill.) and Capital (Ohio) in a split doubleheader as part of the team's annual winter break trip to Florida.
Contact: Mike Pritchard