The McPherson High baseball team didn’t have the greatest of seasons in 2014.

The McPherson High baseball team didn’t have the greatest of seasons in 2014.
A coaching controversy with former head coach Steve Williams erupted after the first doubleheader, which eventually led to Williams’ resignation. Interim head coach Grant Myers was not retained, as the Bullpups were looking for a complete fresh start in 2015.
They seem to have one in new head coach Heath Gerstner.
“I think everyone is just ready for a fresh start,” Gerstner said after his hiring was announced June 9, 2014. “The thing is that I’m a younger guy, so I think I can instill some energy back into the program and get back to doing things the right way.”
That new energy was evident in a scrimmage that the Pups held Saturday at Grant Sports Complex. Gerstner was able to put his team through the paces of a live-game situation before McPherson opens its season today against Augusta, who will make its Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division III debut at home.
First pitch for the doubleheader from Rodney Wheeler Stadium in Augusta is slated for 4 p.m.
Gerstner, himself, is excited about the Pups’ chances to improve on a 7-14 season that ended in the first round of regionals to Andale in 2014.
He returns not only the bulk of the starters from last year, but also the majority of the McPherson American Legion Post 24 team that won the Class A state title in July, 2014.
The Pups will be led on the field by two seniors in catcher Cody Starkel and infielder Griffin Myers. Starkel, in particular, is prepped for an outstanding senior season, as the 6-foot-4 had a .318 batting average in 2014, with a .455 slugging percentage and 18 RBIs.
Myers was named All-AVCTL in 2014 and brings back a .273 average, with an on-base percentage of .422.
“[I’m] excited about two seniors in [Starkel and Myers], who will be looked upon to provide leadership for a very young roster,” Gerstner said. “Both will need to step up offensively and buy into having quality at-bats ever time they dig into the box.”
Though Starkel and Myers are the only seniors Gerstner brings back, he does have a plethora of experience in his junior and sophomore classes who also played for that Post 24 championship team.
They include juniors Caleb Schmidt, who can play just about every position on the field, as well as infielders Micah McCulley and Marcus McDaniel.
Sophomores expected to contribute right away include Casen Hoover and Jack Reifschneider. In total, MHS will boast 20 student-athletes that are freshmen and sophomores, meaning the leadership of the experienced juniors and seniors will be key to a guiding the Pups through a tough conference schedule.
“The AVCTL-DIII looks to be a solid conference once again, with many programs returning varsity experience,” Gerstner said. “Rose Hill took third at 4A-DI state and returns a large nucleus from that team. Buhler and Winfield will also pose state-caliber teams.”
McPherson will be home twice next week, as they host Mulvane on Monday and Rose Hill on Thursday.

Contact Chris Swick by email at cswick@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.