Tiger baseball is back, confident

As baseball season opens, head coach Jack Sole has high hopes of this being a good year compared to the last few.

“The last few years our team has been down, but this year I think we’ll compete and be right there with them again.”

With Waterloo West as this year’s rival yet again, Sole is confident about beating them. West and CF have been “fairly well matched from 2001-2006,” he said. Since 2006, West has only had about three victories against CF. “It’s become a pretty nice rivalry.”

Part of this confidence comes from the boys having plenty of experience from club baseball prior to their playing for the high school. Many players play travel team baseball, where others play IBL (Iowa Baseball League) in the metro area.

“It does make quite a bit of difference if you play on a travel team or not. Those guys get to experience playing all over the midwest and see all different types of talent. It’s one of those things that would help us more if more guys would get involved in travel teams through the summer,” Sole said.

The number of athletes has gone down from last season. There are 16 this year, compared to the 27 who had field time last year. Upperclassmen are making up a good portion of this number. Sole noted, “This year we are finally what I would call ‘experienced’ with upperclassmen. We’re majority upperclassmen where the last couple years we’ve been very young. This class of seniors right now, three of them got playing time as freshmen, which in our league, is almost unheard of. The kids that we have this year have a lot of experience and we’re looking forward to what we have.”

There are seven returning senior letterwinners and one junior letterwinner. A pair of sophomores also return with letters.

Assistant coach Nick Kline has been part of the Exell program, so he constantly works hard with the boys on weight lifting and strength and conditioning. Instead of two-a-days, the boys have extreme nights. Practice in the summer usually begins at about 3:30 and ends at about 7.

“We’re just really excited about this year. The first few days have been a really great atmosphere. We have some great leadership, which is something we haven’t had in a while. Some intensity,” Sole said.

The head coach feels like a lot of the success he’s sensing ahead is coming from the indoor hitting facility that the boys have just had available to them this year.

The season officially kicks off against rival Waterloo West at River Front Stadium in Waterloo on May 24. The first pitch will be at either 5 or 7 o’clock. As of now, it is undetermined.

“We’re ‘rejuvenated’ is what I’ve been using with the guys. It’s really been a hard three years for us. Our guys are excited, and it’s just all around the campus. You can feel that there’s some intensity that we haven’t had in a couple years, and I think the guys realize that and are excited about succeeding,” Sole said.

Being a varsity player so early in his career, Strempke is at cloud nine. “It feels like I always dreamed it would.” Strempke also has the same feeling as his coach about the upcoming season. “We don’t expect anything less than State,” he said. “All the hard work and dedication pays off.”

Strempke is strongly looking forward to game time on the field. “I think the strongest part of our team is the talent we have within the team and the intensity we have out on the field with our players.”

The boys are sure kicking it off strong this year. “I can really see the confidence and potential in our boys both on the field and off,” Sole said.

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