With three teams bringing in new coaches, two coaches in their second seasons, one squad trying to recapture its identity, and another going through a youth movement, this Hendricks County baseball season should be full of excitement.
First-year coach John Mlagan comes into Bethesda as the third coach in as many seasons. While the new staff has a combined 30 years of experience on the varsity level, it’s the first they’ve been together. Joining Mlagan are long-time Patriots coaches Bill Hawkins and Lee Martin.
Making the transition a bit more difficult has been the weather.
“We’re facing the same challenges that all of our competitors are facing right now, the weather,” Mlagan said. “We’ve been braving the cold when the rain lets up so we can practice outside.”
Mlagan’s first task was to get the players focused and on track through the coaching change and weather. Improving on the Patriots’ 1-16 record of last season will be next on the list.
However, Bethesda is “expecting big things from our guys this year,” Mlagan said.
The Patriots bring back some offensive firepower they can build around.
Team leaders in batting average, homeruns, and RBI return from last season in senior Brandon Gill (.341) and John Mlagan (6 HR, 10 RBI).
The first-year skipper points to offseason growth as another reason for his optimism.
Senior pitchers Alec Varvel and Nathan Buck have both spent four years on the varsity squad and have improved over the course of the year in an area Bethesda needed help.
“We struggled a bit on the mound last year, but are very optimistic in that area,” Mlagan said. “Buck and Varvel have each gained some impressive velocity and accuracy which will prove to help the Patriots win the (sectional) title. Both have already shown strong leadership in our practices and we’re looking forward to a great season from both of them.”