Photo credit: 1460 ESPN Yakima 

Key Players

Drew Kornegay P/2B - Kornegay is the unquestioned ace of Ike's pitching staff. Last year he spun a quality sub 2.00 ERA. His fastball is under 80, so he relies on his slider and changeup to get outs. Expect another big year.

John McDonald P/SS - McDonald returns as the number two starter. He has a low 80s fastball and prides himself on hitting spots. When he’s not pitching, he’ll be holding down shortstop.   

Ryan Fowler C - Fowler is one of the Big Nine’s budding stars. Last year as a freshman he was Ike’s cleanup hitter and workhorse catcher. There could potentially be some long balls out of him this year. 

Overview

Nine is the magic number for the Eisenhower Cadets. It’s the number of returning starters this squad will roll out on opening day.

When you think Big Nine Baseball, teams like Wenatchee, Moses Lake, and West Valley come to mind.

Eisenhower hasn’t made a postseason run in over a decade, and they’re just a couple years removed from a winless season. History is certainly not on their side.

The desire for change is there however, and the attitude around the clubhouse has taken a turn for the better. The upperclassmen are determined to kickstart a new era, and now is the time to do it.  

If Eisenhower is going to beat out some of the more traditional powerhouses, they absolutely cannot afford to lose their top two pitchers, Drew Kornegay and John McDonald. It’s crucial those two are on top of their game, as there's not much experience behind them.

The third starter to look for is senior Tyler Epperson. He’s an unorthodox side arm pitcher that knows how to confuse hitters.

A big power arm coming out of the bullpen belongs to 6-foot-3 JoJo Gonzales. He’ll be an intimidator type on the mound and he can bring the heat.

The catcher on this team, Ryan Fowler, is very much a sleeper All League candidate. He has experience working with Ike’s pitching staff, and expectations are high for this sophomore.

Holding down the middle infield spots is going to be McDonald at shortstop and Kornegay is at second base. When either guy is on the mound, Steven Rodriguez will take over an infield spot.

Playing first base is a returning starter in senior Tanner Frost. He’s a big bat presence in the middle of the lineup. His average typically hovers around .280, and he has a track record of getting runners across the plate.

Manning third base should be junior Dawson Hauff. Last year he primarily acted as a DH because of a dislocated shoulder, but his rocket arm is ready to go this season. He's also a highly productive hitter that will slide in the three hole.

Another corner infielder that was highly productive last year is Jordan McCloud. He hit .275 with 12 RBI last year as a sophomore. Expect him to make starts in the field, as well as DH for the pitcher.

Patrolling centerfield is going to be the highly athletic Malachi Spurrier. He was a wide receiver on the football team, so he knows how to track balls in the air. Offensively, he’ll bring the wheels on the basepath.

The corner outfield spots feature a bevy of contributors in JoJo Gonzales, Tyler Epperson, and Justice Dean. It’ll likely be a scenario where Ike rides the hot bat down the stretch.  

Projection

The biggest thing the Cadets need to work on this year is playing mistake free baseball. Errors and wasted starts killed this group down the stretch last season. While there is a good level of talent on this years ballclub, there isn’t enough to just coast by. The Big Nine is looking ridiculously stacked this year, so Ike will need to bring it every single night. The first step has to be staying over .500, from there it’s all about who's going to step up and take over. 

Key games

Moses Lake 3/22

@ West Valley 4/19

@ Wenatchee 5/3