With all but three varsity players from last year returning, the Clarinda Cardinals are aiming to contend in the Hawkeye 10 Conference during the 2020 baseball season.
Clarinda baseball coach Rod Eberly said the conference promises to be strong again this season. He said Lewis Central and Harlan each return several good players. Carroll Kuemper also has strong core back, while Denison will feature four returning all-conference players.
“We’re looking to be in the mix. We believe we can do real well with the guys we’re bringing back. We have a chance to be a very competitive team and finish near the top of the league,” Eberly said.
The Cardinals have three all-conference players returning this summer. Those players are senior utility player Parker Rock, sophomore catcher Logan Green and sophomore pitcher and utility player Cooper Neal.
Clarinda also has two other senior starters coming back in Jakob Childs and Nathan Lindsay. Childs was the second man in the Clarinda pitching rotation a year ago and can also see some time at first base. Lindsay is a pitcher and outfielder.
Juniors on the squad this year are pitcher and utility player Michael Shull and outfielder and pitcher Jon McCall. Nathan Barnes will be asked to contribute on the infield. Barnes played baseball as a freshman, but missed his sophomore campaign with a broken finger.
Sophomore Jarod McNeese saw some time on the mound for the Cardinals last year. As an eighth grader Wyatt Schmitt established himself as one of the top hurlers for the Cardinals and will help anchor the staff as a freshman this season. Fellow freshman infielder Tadyn Brown also saw some varsity action as an eighth grader.
“We return a lot of depth on the mound,” Eberly said.
Clarinda joined other schools around the state in starting practices Monday, June 1, after the Iowa High School Athletic Association approved plans for a shortened summer baseball season. The IHSAA was forced to cancel the spring sports schedule due to health concerns related to the coronavirus.
As a result, several new guidelines have been implemented this season in an effort to protect the health of players, coaches, fans and officials involved with baseball.
“We have done a pretty good job adjusting to some of the new things. When the players first get to practice they have their temperature taken and we make sure they feel good. They have to hang their bags and put their stuff six feet apart. We also take breaks after every drill so the players can get something to drink and put on hand sanitizer. We’re doing what we can to stay safe,” Eberly said.
Eberly also has a new coaching staff assisting him with meeting those new demands. Serving as assistant coaches for the Cardinals this season are Carson Riedel and Zach Goering.
Riedel will serve as the junior varsity head coach for Clarinda this year after three years as the head varsity coach of the Maryville Spoofhounds in Maryville, Mo. He also assisted with the St. Joseph, Mo., Mustangs of the MINK League for several years. The Clarinda A’s are also members of the MINK League, but the league has been cancelled for the 2020 season due to concerns with the COVID-19 virus.
Goering will serve as the freshman head coach for the Cardinals. He played high school baseball for I-35, Truro, and graduated from Graceland University in Lamoni.
Clarinda has 45 players out for the baseball program this year. Eberly said the high numbers are due in part to the addition of 15 eighth graders to the program. Those players previously competed in either the Clarinda Junior A’s program or in the State Line League.
The Cardinals will open the season Monday, June 15, at Shenandoah. Clarinda will play its first home game Wednesday, June 17, against Southwest Valley.
In all, Clarinda will play 14 games during the regular season this year with 10 of those coming against Hawkeye 10 Conference rivals. The state tournament trail starts July 11 and Eberly said Clarinda is focused on playing its best baseball down the stretch.
“Our Activities Director, Josh Porter, worked with the Hawkeye 10 and gave us 10 games right away. We wanted to keep our schedule between the 10 and 18 game mark. This gives us a nice, competitive schedule to get ready for the tournament. That’s what it’s all going to be about for us. We want to get in baseball shape and get ready for the end of the season,” Eberly said.