ALTAMONT — The Altamont Indians had a strong season in 2013, advancing to the Kinmundy regional title game before losing a dramatic heartbreaker to South Central to end their season.
While the Indians graduated a number of starters, the cavalry has arrived in the form of a number of strong young players.
Ryan Armstrong, Klaiton Wolff, Nick Miller and Jacob Miller are expected to see playing time among the returning starters after playing on the Altamont Post 512 Junior Legion team that finished fourth in the state this summer.
"I lost a lot of seniors last year, but it's been a totally different atmosphere," said Altamont head coach Mike Dokey. "The kids are excited, they're ready to play."
Brady Winn and Devon Guerrettaz also return to the varsity team after their summer with Post 512, with the two being slated in right field and at third base, respectively.
Nick Miller and Klaiton Wolff are expected to split time at shortstop, with Wolff also seeing time at various spots around the diamond.
"Wolff, he can catch, pitch," Dokey said. "He's the first kid I can put anywhere on the field and he's going to do a great job. He's such a great athlete and competitor."
While the newcomers are causing some excitement around Altamont, there's plenty of senior leadership returning as well.
The pitching battery should be made up of seniors most of the time. Aaron Goeckner will be behind the plate for his senior year after playing with Post 512, anchoring a pitching staff that will be led by seniors Cole Borders and Garrett Ziegler.
Ziegler was 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA last year, and also wreaked havoc offensively, racking up a .431 batting average and stealing 16 bases while being named to the Effingham Daily News All-Area team.
Borders will play first and pitch much of the conference season along with Ziegler. Dokey has confidence in the makeup of both parts of the pitching game.
"With our program being cut back and us losing games, (Borders and Ziegler are) going to be pitching most of the games," he said. "(Goeckner) had a good year and he's learned so much and calls a good game."
Senior Trevor Cornett should see more playing time this year, along with junior Jacob Miller.
While the Indians are looking to make waves in the National Trail Conference, Dokey has his work cut out for him evaluating players and preparing for the spring season.
Twenty-four players came out for the Indians this fall, and many players will split time on both of the Indians' squads.
"There's going to be a lot of kids playing at the varsity level, they're going to be playing varsity and JV," Dokey said. "It's one of those years where we have so much young talent and it's going to be hard to see who we're going to play."
Their season starts today with a regional rematch, opening the year with a home game against the South Central team that ended their 2013 spring campaign. The game begins at 4:30 p.m.
Seniors: Cole Borders, Trevor Cornett, Aaron Goeckner, Brandon Haywood, Garrett Ziegler
Juniors: Zach Beccue, Wyatt Butts, Brad Caravello, Jacob Miller, Dalton Ricketts, Nick Tkachuk, Brady Winn
Sophomores: Devon Guerrettaz, Brandon hosick, Nick Miller, Eric Wolff, Klaiton Wolff
Freshmen: Ryan Armsrong, Nick Bowlin, Jake Finn, Caden Miller, Dylan Miller, John Shyrock