This is a team with potential, experience and talent. That makes it a team with a chance.
The Cathedral High School baseball team, a traditional city and state power, turned in a remarkable run to the state championship game in 2022. Irish baseball coach Ed Freije said there is potential for another memorable season in ’23.
But much work must be done to get in that position.
“We like our group,” Freije said. “We know our strengths and what we need to improve on.”
The Irish, the Class 4A state runners-up in ‘22, started the 2023 season 7-2. They were No. 6 in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A rankings on April 17.
“It’s an experienced group and a young group,” Freije said. “We have high expectations for ourselves and we have to do things better for sure. A lot of guys got some really good experience last year and played some significant roles in our makeup as a program and a team. We really grew into some roles and it took us a bit to kind of find our potential best version of ourself.
“We'll definitely piggyback on the experience of those guys and lean on those guys that helped us achieve what we achieved last year.”
The Irish in 2023 indeed will be a mix of youth and experience, with six core players – much of the offensive and defensive core – returning from ’22.
“There are obviously some high expectations there, just with their leadership and their maturity and their experience,” Freije said. “Then there are other seniors who will step into some roles, who haven't seen a lot of varsity experience, as well as some young guys. It's kind of a mix.
“We've got some underclassmen with significant experience. We're going to learn a lot about ourselves, especially early. We’ll play around with some things, get some guys some opportunities and try to build from there.”
Freije said that’s particularly true of a pitching staff that that he said will spend the early part of the season identifying its “go-to guys and who can be consistent for us.”
“That’s for sure going to be a work in progress,” Frejie said. “There are some things we're going to continue to find out, potentially up through May. We hope to grow in all aspects of who we are. On paper, some would say we do kind of know who we are, but we’re also plugging guys in and establishing some different roles even with the guys we know what we have.
“It will be a continued process.”
The ’23 Irish baseball team will be led by six returning core players:
*Patrick Mazur. A junior leftfielder, Mazur had a .346 batting average with 10 runs and four runs batted in through nine games. Freije said Mazur could have more of a mound presence for the Irish in 2023.
*Carson Johnson. A senior center fielder whose move from No. 9 to leadoff helped key the Irish’s late-season run in ’22, Johnson was hitting .393, with 13 runs and five RBI through nine games.
*David Ayers. A senior third baseman, Ayers had 10 runs with seven RBI through nine games and Freije said he also will take on an increased pitching role in ‘23. “We’re just looking for consistency and innings out of him,” Freije said.
*Kyuss Gargett. A senior switch-hitting shortstop, Gargett was batting .400 with 10 runs through nine games and will also pitch in ’23.
*Eli Bennett. A sophomore first baseman/pitcher who had a .304 batting average and seven runs through nine games, he will continue in that role and be a middle-of-the-order bat in 2023.
*J.T. Stiner. A junior catcher, Stiner had eight RBI through eight games.
Also key for the Irish in ’23: Sophomore catcher/utility Bo Cooper, senior second baseman Griffin Sinsabaugh, senior corner infielder Tommy Davey, sophomore pitcher/outfielder Zander Carnahan, junior pitcher Jackson Reeves, junior pitcher Neal Parrish and freshman infielder Eli Sinsabaugh.
“We need to be a lot more consistent,” Freije said. “And as always, in early spring in Indiana, we’re trying to find rhythm and consistency. It isn't always the easiest, but that’s not an excuse. We have to be better and we have to continue to work. We have to be more consistent with the group that we have and the identity that we have. We have to be clean and consistent and the margin for error is very small.
“We've got to continue to focus on the little things and not take things for granted and continue to get better each and every day. We have to be the best version of ourselves we can be.
“If we are, I think we can be pretty good.”