Ed Freije likes the makeup of 2022 Cathedral High School baseball.
The ’22 Irish have the usual expectations, and a familiar approach for what is traditionally one of the best high school baseball programs in Indiana. They also have experience, youth and ability.
“We feel like we’ve got a good mix, a good group,” Freije said.
Freije, in his sixth season as the Irish’s baseball coach, said the team’s strength this season again will be a focus on pitching and defense. That’s a formula that has helped Cathedral to a state title, two semi-state titles and four sectional titles in Freije’s tenure – and Freije said it remains an emphasis.
“We talk a lot about being able to pitch and defend, and it starts there,” Freije said. “We’ve got to continue to grow. It’s early, but consistency on the mound and consistency defensively have to grow. We’re figuring things out. We know we need to improve.
“At least philosophically, the offense can come and go, but the more solid we can be in making the right plays and throwing strikes, it gives us a chance.”
The Irish (6-3-1 through three weeks of April) ranked ninth in the Class 4A Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association poll as of April 18, and will be led by a pitching staff that includes a slew of capable seniors and a freshman with significant potential. That staff will work with a relatively young team in the field and at the plate.
“In a given game, we might start three sophomores, a freshman and the juniors,” Freije said. “We graduated a good group of seniors last year and we’ll obviously miss them, but we return a large group of seniors and a mix of some new contributors.
“We have quite a bit of experience back, but also some new contributors who we’re looking forward to.”
The Irish pitching staff includes: Seniors Dylan Haslett, Nick Bassi, Henry Birk, Alexander Wright, Ben Gomez and Will Mayer and freshman Eli Bennett.
“Dylan’s definitely a guy we’re going to look toward,” Freije said. “He has good stuff and will play at the next level. He returns to us with the most experience, but it takes more than one guy to win a sectional, regional and potentially a semi-state or state. Dylan’s going to get a lot of opportunity to throw against some really good teams, but it’s important we develop the staff.
“We’ve got to see if these guys can beat the teams we need to beat.”
Freije on the staff’s experience: “It’s a good thing as far as leadership and guys who should have some composure and mentally be ready to take the ball and go. The real thing we’re looking for and will continue to look for is just consistency when they take the mound.”
Junior third baseman David Ayers and junior shortstop Kyuss Gargett are among multiple underclassmen playing key roles for the Irish, with sophomore catcher J.T. Steiner and two seniors – second baseman Jake Tomich and first baseman Nick Feczko – also key. Wright will play right field, with sophomores Patrick Mazur, Chris Klug and Carson Johnson also critical in the outfield.
“We’ve got a good mix of experience and some guys we feel like will be some big bats for us,” Freije said. “If one through nine, 10 or 11 can come together, we have the potential to be good offensively and get some runs to be aggressive on the bases. But we have to put the ball in play and get on base.
“We have experience in the junior class and sophomore class and a freshman who’s going to grow quickly. The guys do a great job being great teammates. We emphasize that: to be successful, focus less on the individual and more on the team. It’s a good group that works hard.
“We’ve just got to grow and be as consistent as we can be.”
And if the Irish program must build and improve throughout the season to attain its lofty goals, Freije said such expectations are the norm.
“The expectations are high at Cathedral,” he said. “It’s no different this year. The expectations we put on ourselves are no different. The goal is a city championship and a state championship. We have to take things one game at a time and learn and grow and improve and build on things. We talk a lot about the mentally staying with things and staying the course and trusting it.
“We do like our pieces a lot, but we have to perform and continue to improve throughout the year.”