With the 2019 high school baseball season just around the corner in California, we have begun rolling out team previews from around the state. Today we focus on the Grace Brethren Lancers. The Lancers are looking for their three arms to lead them into Division 2 with big seasons. Grace Brethren has moved up from Division 4 just two years ago and continue to make a name for themselves in Southern California.
Team: Grace Brethren
Section: Southern Section, Division 2
League: Tri-Valley League
Head Coach/Years at school: Brock Heerdt (3rd Year)
Team Twitter Handle: @coach_heerdt
2018 Overall Record: 17-9 (11-1, T-1st Place in League)
2018 Postseason Finish: 2nd Round loss in D3
Number of Returning Starters: 8
Number of Returning Pitchers: 4
Top Returning Players:
‘19 C Josh Buckley, ‘19 CF/SS Kai Tinker, ‘19 RF Justin Rodriguez, ‘20 RHP Carson Ohl, ‘20 RHP Josh Swales, ‘20 3B/LF Hunter Scribner
Other Players to Know:
‘19 RHP Ian Buckner, ‘20 UTL Andrew Sharp, ‘20 MIF Dante Zamudio, ‘21 RHP/C Walter Quinn, ‘22 C/MIF/P Mason Reid
‘19 C Josh Buckley - Grand Canyon University, ‘19 RF Justin Rodriguez - Westmont, ‘19 RHP Ian Buckner - Harvard, ‘20 RHP Carson Ohl - Grand Canyon University, ‘20 RHP Josh Swales - Arizona
The Lancers of Grace Brethren have built themselves into a perennial power in California winning big playoff games over the last two season while being moved from Division 4 in 2017 to Division 2 in 2019. Moving up to face stiffer competition is what happens when you continue to win against some of the top competition in California. This year the Lancers will continue to face high-quality competition and with the roster they’ve built, will be a team to watch. Grace Brethren has five D-1 commits on the roster and they will look for that group of experienced and talented players to lead them this season.
The Lancers start the year off in the Easton Tournament where they will see stiff competition from some of the best in the area. That starts with games against Oaks Christian and Burbank before having to see which other winners they will get matched up with. Other pre-league matchups against Westlake and Calabasas will test the Lancers also. Once in league, the Lancers will renew their rivalry with St. Bonaventure and that series could determine who wins the Tri-Valley League.
For the Lancers to reach their goal of a CIF-SS Division 2 Championship, Coach Heerdt is going to rely on his pitching staff to keep them in ball games consistently. Coach Heerdt has three D-1 commits ready to go on the hill and he believes that will be his key strength in 2019. The rotation starts with ‘20 RHP Josh Swales, an Arizona commit, who had a standout summer and is into the low 90’s with his FB while showing feel for his change and curveball as well. He’ll be asked to increase his load from 2018 and be the ace on the hill for the Lancers. ‘20 RHP Carson Ohl, a Grand Canyon commit, was one of the best pitchers on the team in 2018 and will continue to be a strike-throwing machine for Grace Brethren this season as well. ‘19 RHP Ian Buckner, a Harvard commit, will be another arm Coach Heerdt can go to for big innings. With three arms, look for Coach Heerdt to find a schedule that works for his guys and keep them in a groove week in and week out.
When you have the quality of arms that the Lancers do, you better have someone who can catch them. ‘19 C Josh Buckley, a Grand Canyon commit, is just that type of player showing he can catch and throw with the best in the state and having a bat that will be counted on in the middle of the lineup. ‘19 RF Justin Rodriguez, a Westmont commit, fits the profile in RF with a big bat and big arm to match. ‘19 CF/SS Kai Tinker is the guy who will need to get the offense started sitting atop the lineup and using his speed at multiple defensive spots. ‘20 3B/LF Hunter Scribner will look to protect those other big hitters in the lineup with his big bat that is made for extra-bases. ‘20 UTL Andrew Sharp is another big bat that will look to drive in runs and keep rallies moving while being able to play at the corners and behind the plate. ‘20 MIF Dante Zamudio is extremely athletic and has the ability to work gap-to-gap. He'll be counted on in the INF to support his pitchers and make big plays. With this many hitters, opposing pitchers will have to work to get outs and that plays right into the Lancers strengths.
The Lancers are hoping their move up to Division 2 is an exciting one with the looks of a team that will go out and put themselves in a spot to keep pace in the Division and the State. If Grace Brethren can find consistency in their lineup and score runs early for their pitchers, teams will not want to match up with the Lancers come playoff time.