It wasn’t until Chadwick’s first practice last spring that Brandon Wiles allowed himself to believe the Cardinals would be playing baseball again.
“I always wanted a baseball team at Chadwick,” Wiles said. “But I didn’t think we’d ever get one.”
After 10 years without baseball and just in time for Wiles’ final two years of high school, Chadwick began hitting, fielding, pitching and bunting once more last spring. The Cardinals are counting on the second year of their resurrection on the ball diamond to be more fruitful than their first.
Chadwick is looking for its first win since bringing back baseball. The Cardinals endured an 0-9 season a year ago.
“It was a new run for us and we had a rough start,” coach Mark Loveland said.
There should be no doubting the passion and resilience of Chadwick’s players. The Cardinals have 16 players suiting up, despite last season's struggles.
“With the season we had last year, it could have been devastating,” Loveland said. “But every one of them was asking when baseball was going to get started and when they could get out on the field. As a coach, that’s what you love to hear.”
“I honestly didn’t think we’d have this big of a turnout,” said Wiles, an outfielder and the lone senior on the team. “I’ve always liked baseball myself. But I didn’t think we’d have enough players to have full varsity and jayvee teams. It’s amazing.”
Loveland anticipates more than 20 players next year.
Loveland and Chadwick track coach Jenny Gardner are happily sharing a few athletes. Wiles, Hayden Rozell and Koltin Walker are splitting time between baseball and track practices.
“I don’t have much free time, but that’s alright,” Rozell said. “Usually, I alternate practices or go to half of each of one.”
Rozell was disappointed not to be able to play last year due to a broken wrist.
“I hadn’t played since junior high, so it was pretty heartbreaking not to be able to play last year,” Rozell said. “My wrist feels good now. I’m ready to bounce back.”
Chadwick’s lineup is expected to primarily have Rozell on the mound or at shortstop, Brylee Daugherty at first base, Tucker Johnson at second, Garrett Guerin behind the plate, Wiles, Zack Loveland, Blake Phillips, Dakota Maggard and Jarin Cunningham in the outfield and Austin Sisco, Trent Nalley or Colton Walker at third.
“We’ve got power all the way through our lineup,” Loveland said.
Loveland is pleased to report Chadwick’s schedule this season won’t be quite as imposing as it was a year ago. With the Cardinals not settling on a team until late in the winter, they were left in a spot in which they had to take on any games they could get on their schedule.
“We had to play people who other teams didn’t want to play because they were so stacked,” Loveland said. “We took whatever we could get. It was hard to gauge last year because we played so many state-ranked teams. We came up against a lot of good junior and senior pitchers. I was phenomenally impressed with our guys staying in the box and hitting the way they did.
“Now that they have established themselves, I think they will produce and put up some good numbers. Guys are showing potential to have a breakout season.”
The Cardinals are anxious to record the program’s first win in 11 years. Chadwick last won a District championship in 1983.
“It will be really good for us,” Wiles said of the first win. “It will give the guys confidence and more heart to play.”