Coming off back-to-back state tournament appearances, the White River High baseball team faces an uncertain spring. The Hornets were hit by graduation, losing players that contributed to recent success, but return and handful of proven diamond veterans.
Those returnees helped spark the 2014 squad that went 12-2 in league play and then won two of three district contests, again advancing to the state’s Sweet 16. For the season, White River finished 19-6 overall.
Among the players to watch for this spring are senior outfielder Dustin France and junior catcher Riley Johnson, a pair of all-league, first-team selections a season ago. Returning senior outfielder Mitchell Webster was a second-team pick last year and senior Trent Buchanan earned all-league honorable mention. Another key piece to the Hornet puzzle is senior Sean Klapperich, who splits time between pitching and playing third base.
Senior Colton Swanson looks to be holding down the chores at first base, but longtime coach Mike Williams has a couple of holes to fill. Up for grabs during preseason workouts are the second base and right field jobs.
The pitching chores will primarily be handled by seniors Klapperich, Buchanan, France, and Mason Harris.
The Hornets are under the guidance of longtime coach Mike Williams, a White River alum who has posted a record of 253-200 during his 19 seasons at the helm. He shared SPSL 2A Coach of the Year honors in 2014 and, following the 2013 season, was honored as the state’s Class 2A Coach of the Year.
“We have been enjoying the nice weather and getting lots of work done outside,” Williams reported. “Our expectations are high as always in regards to winning some games, but we are realistic too. We lost some really quality kids. With that being said, if this group can improve and grow as a team, we have a chance to be pretty good come May.”
Williams has built a tough nonleague schedule, so he expects some bumps along he road. But that approach is designed to test the Hornets and bring out the best in the players.
“Win or lose, our mission has always been to compete the best we can, improve, and represent WRHS in a positive manner at all times,” Williams said.