Editor's note: The Fisher Bunnies actual record for their 2018 season was 7-16-1.
The Fisher Bunnies baseball team will begin its season today if the weather permits on the road against Bismarck-Henning High School. First pitch will be at 4:30 p.m.
Coach Mike Callahan will be starting his first year as a baseball coach at Fisher.
Callahan’s experience is limited other than some experience at the junior high level and said baseball is one of his favorite sports. Callahan in fact has more experience with sports such as wrestling than baseball.
"I coached youth wrestling right after high school," Callahan said. "I also helped with my high school at JV and Varsity, as the assistant coach. But baseball, my experience with that is just helping out at the junior high level and umpiring."
Callahan’s team will consist of seven seniors, two freshmen, three juniors and a sophomore for a total of 13 players.
Callahan has been working with his team on the fundamental elements of the game and is seeing improvement since the start of practice.
"We’ve been working on fielding, catching, throwing, working with pitches and our hitting obviously," Callahan said. "We broke down the swing and how it needs to be. Even just seeing the first swings right now, just doing our rotation of hitting stations has helped out a lot."
Callahan knows his team will have to rely on the seniors because of their experience. He expects all of the senior players to be starting.
One of those seniors, Dylan Baker, will be the starting catcher. Callahan said that Baker will most likely play a major leadership role for the team.
"He’ll probably be our captain," Callahan said. "As a catcher he can see all of the field. Everybody else has their back turned, so he is able to read everything and he’ll be calling out a lot of stuff. He’ll be one of our seniors that we are looking forward to getting on to the next level."
In terms of infield starters so far Callahan is looking at Dakota Matthews starting at shortstop, Jed Chow starting at first base and senior Tyler Martin to start at third base.
"Tyler has proved to me a little more at practice that he is capable for that starting position," Callahan said.
The Bunnies’ pitching depth will only be about seven deep, relying on players such as Zeek Henderson and Jed Chow to go deep into games.
"I am hoping they will give us some numbers with the whole pitch count," Callahan said. "Seven pitchers is kind of low."
Another pitcher Callahan will have available to him will be Caleb Riley, a left-handed pitcher and outfielder.
"He might cause some trouble for some of those right-handers," Callahand said.
Last year Fisher finished with an overall record of 7-16-1. Callahan has been working with his team to not think about last year’s record and come in this season with a fresh start, to be optimistic.
"The other coaches and I have been working with our players," Callahan said. "Trying not to get down and be positive, because when you get down, things just keep getting worse going down that end."
Callahan thinks his team can surprise some teams because of the new system he has been teaching and the changes they have been making on how they play the game.
"Baseball is still the same game, but it’s just the different ways how we coach it," Callahan said. "Nothing against the previous coaches, but I think what we are doing right now is becoming effective. We can see it from the beginning of practice to right now. They are working hard, and they are doing the right things."
Callahan played at Schlarman High School, where he graduated from in 2009. He went to Eastern Illinois University where he majored in elementary school education. He teaches fourth grade at Fisher Grade School.
It was his interest in teaching and his love for baseball, that led Callahan to want to teach baseball to a younger audience. He first looked into coaching baseball for junior high, but then a position opened up at the high school.
"I thought this a great way to get involved in the community," Callahan said. "Get with the high school level since I am always working with fourth-graders. It’s nice to get a different age involved."
Callahan will have two assistant coaches with him, Kiel Abel and Nolan Kuhns. Abel has experience from being an assistant at Centennial, where baseball is popular. Abel hopes to bring that level of excitement to Fisher and perhaps draw some others in nearby areas.
"We are trying to bring that type of program here," Abel said. "Hopefully, the younger guys buy in and buy in fast, and then we can keep growing and maybe get some more guys to come out. Maybe get players to come over here."
Kuhns use to play baseball at Fisher and is hoping to see the team win more games this season.
"I know we got a small team and it’s always been kind of been small here for the baseball program," Kuhns said. "If they have good attitudes they can win some games, and I also want to learn a lot from these two, as they are experienced in coaching as well."
Contact Ben Theobald at email@example.com