By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY — Coach Charlie Stumpff’s West High Trojans have been the State Class 4A Runner-Up team for two years in a row. With nine seniors on the 2011 squad, the smart money would look for West to be back in Des Moines again this year.
The Trojans lost Sean Moore, Neil Madsen, Colton Rogers, David Rachke, Neil Flynn, Ryan Raaf, Chris Lauer and Tom Heinrich to graduation, but a core of veteran starters remains.
Coach Stumpff (418-273 at West, 492-324 career) will look to seniors Ryan Rumpf, Nate Ewing, Spence Bonner, Leo Franz, Aaron Peller, Will Ross, Connor Schreck and Luke Crimmins for vital experience.
Rumpf will alternate playing at third base with duties on the mound. Ewing will cover shortstop, Bonner is slated to cover first. Franz returns to the infield, Peller will be in the outfield. Ross will share pitching duties while Schreck switches between the mound and third. Crimmins will also see time pitching as will Kuepker.
“It looks like we will have a solid line-up led by three-year starters Ewing, Rumpf and Bonner,” Stumpff said. “We should be able to hit for average and have above average speed.”
Sophomores Colin Baker and Ezra Reiners are also expected to contribute mightily.
Cronk is marked for pitching and catching duties. Baker is also expected to catch this season.
“We have excellent pitching depth; we have a lot of kids capable of giving us innings. Five pitchers will throw low- to mid-80’s. Ryan Rumpf is an ace who is a returning first Team All-State pitcher; he holds the season and career win record at West.” Rumpf is 6-1 in post season play and has signed to play at Iowa.
Coach Stumpff does not see an easy season for the Trojans.
“Our biggest concern is health and chemistry. We have a senior-laden team and it is imperative that everyone get on board for the good of the team.” He added the MVC is a “very deep conference” and that the team will have to deal with some adversity along the way. “Hopefully, we will have the mental strength to do this.”
In the Valley Division, Stumpff gives his Trojans the nod as a team to beat. But he also has his eye on Dubuque Hempstead which returns a number of starters from last year’s conference championship team. Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Jefferson also bear watching due to returning threats in their line-ups.