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Grenadiers Baseball: New Year, New Team

Junior+pitcher+Alex+Shoettmer+in+delivery+to+the+plate.
Junior pitcher Alex Shoettmer in delivery to the plate.

Junior pitcher Alex Shoettmer in delivery to the plate.

Jacob French

Jacob French

Junior pitcher Alex Shoettmer in delivery to the plate.

Jacob French, Staff Reporter

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The IUS baseball team is  coming off a 43-15 2016 season, a school record for wins, including 27-1 in the then named Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Grenadiers started the 2017 season ranked 22 in the preseason NAIA coaches poll, including the number 1 ranking in the newly named River States Conference. Currently the Grenadiers are 4-4 for the 2017 season.

This is Ben Reel’s 9th season as the Grenadier’s head coach. Reel’s career record is 281-163-1.

“This year’s focus is team chemistry, finding who the leaders are and putting them in the right place,” Reel said.                         

In the 2016 season, the Grenadiers made it to the KIAC tournament finals, but fell short to the University of Rio Grande. The final game of the season came on May 19, 2016 in the NAIA tournament where the Grenadiers were eliminated by Lindsey Wilson College with a score of 3-15.

Richard Rodriguez, junior infielder, said he came to IU Southeast to play baseball because of the programs winning attitude.

“Everyone here at IU Southeast are focused on winning and are hard work, working to win a NAIA World Series,” Rodriguez said.

As a team, the Grenadiers hit .317 percent at the plate for the 2016 season. On defense, they fielded at .949 percent. On the mound, as a team the Grenadiers had a 3.72 era while striking out 349 batters, which is the most in coach Reel’s tenure.

“Last year’s strength was hitting,” Reel said. “This year’s strength will be good defense and pitching.”

Freshman catcher Dalton Shaw is zoned in ready to hit the ball.

When asked about the NAIA hitters, senior pitcher Jamie Young said, “The NAIA hitters are scrappier than Division I hitters, it takes more planning to get hitters out in NAIA.”

Notable player losses for the Grenadiers team include senior catcher Trent Simpson, former 2016 senior outfielder Logan Coughlin, and former 2016 senior pitcher Jarrod Messex.

Simpson lead the KIAC with a .436 batting average for a total of 85 hits. Simpson also tallied 7 home runs and 51 RBI. Coughlin hit for .363 with 70 total hits, four home runs and 50 RBI. Messex on the mound won 6 games as opposed to two lossed and had a 2.41 era.

Notable players returning for the 2017 season include junior pitcher Ryne Underwood, and senior infielders Josh Beams and Zach Reboulet. Underwood on the mound had a 2.40 era and was 6-0 for the 2016 season.

Underwood lead the Grenadiers with 52 strikeouts.

“My favorite memory of last year was pitching against Point Park University because it got a little rowdy,” Underwood said.

Beams was injured last season, but in 2015 he hit for .335 with 36 RBI.

Reboulet started all 58 of the 2016 season and had a near flawless fielding percentage of 0.948.

“That one big goal this year is winning a River States conference championship, and go further in the NAIA tournament,” Reboulet said.

Notable transfers for the upcoming season include senior pitcher Jamie Young from Lipscomb University, junior infielder Richard Rodriguez from the University of Cincinnati, and junior pitcher Gage Rodgers from High Point University.

“I wanted to attend IU Southeast because the coaches cared for me as a person rather than a player,” Young said.

All three players are transfers from Division I schools.

“At the University of Cincinnati the opportunity wasn’t there for me, and I heard good things about the IU Southeast program,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and Young both said they have improved their game since transfer to IU Southeast.

“My game has improved because I can work more one and one with coaches here,” Rodriguez said.

Notable games on the 2017 schedule include the March 17 four game home series against conference rival, the University of Rio Grande. Immediately thereafter, the Grenadiers will travel to 6 ranked Lindsey Wilson College on March 21.

The team’s other matchup against Lindsey Wilson College comes at home on April 18.

“I have more confidence in myself and my game,” senior pitcher Jamie Young said. “I have started developing a 2-seam fastball to get more movement, which helped me have success in the fall.”

The other NAIA ranked opponent the Grenadiers will face this season  is 14 ranked Campbellsville University. Their first meeting is a two-game series on the road on March 28, followed by two home matchups on April 5 and April 25.

The first game of the regular season came on the road in a two-game series against Lindenwood University-Belleville on Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. The Grenadiers lost both games against Lindenwood on Feb.17, with a score of 9-5 and 4-0 for Lindenwood.

The first home series for the Grenadiers begins on Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in the first of a four-game series versus Huntington University. The Grenadiers split the two games against Huntington with a score of 9-8 IUS. Game two had severe weather cancel the rest of game which made the Grenadiers only play six innings and lost with a score of 1-3 Huntington.

“The end goal of the 2017 season is the same as every year, win a River States conference championship go onto region and the qualify for a berth at the NAIA World Series,” Reel said.

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Grenadiers Baseball: New Year, New Team