“They are confident,” said Bradley of his players. “You have to have a quiet confidence, I guess. They definitely aren’t arrogant. They know there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”
While the players are comfortable in their roles on the team, no one is taking success for granted.
The Knights went 10-15 last year and 4-19 the season before that.
“They aren’t going into the season thinking that we have all these seniors and are going to dominate,” said Bradley. “I don’t think that is in anybody’s head.”
The Knights’ strength will be their pitching — which isn’t surprising since the team batting average was in the low .200s last season.
Pitcher Jackson Weeg, a lefty, will be the No. 1 starter for River Ridge. He has been at the top of the rotation in each of his four seasons with the team. Blake Juberg and Michael Hampton, also seniors, will be the No. 2 and No. 3 starters, respectively.
According to Bradley, Juberg struggled to throw strikes last year, but is back on track this season after working with pitching coach Jeff Runion.
Two players, Matthew Hammel and Ryan Worley are still moving into their roles. Hammel, a member of the basketball team, just wrapped that season, while Worley, the closer, is fighting to overcome inflammation in his shoulder.
“Hopefully those two guys will give us a little depth when they get back,” said Bradley.
John Cable will reprise his role behind the plate, while Ian Andrews will be back at shortstop. Both of them are able to pitch if called upon.
“These are a lot of the same kids we started with four years ago,” said Bradley. “They know our system and our expectations. That is something we haven’t had to worry about with newcomers coming in. We have been able to get right to baseball.”
Many of the players spent the off season in the weight room and batting cage. Bradley said the players are continuing to improve individually and as a team.
“I think our team offense will be much better,” said Bradley. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do and what the future holds.”
Will Redding, a senior, who hit .400 last year, has led the team in batting in each of his three seasons? Bradley is expecting nothing less.
“(Redding) will be back in the three-hole for us,” he said. “Hopefully he will have another great year.”
Andrews, a knowledgeable player who can put the ball in play, will bat second. Cable, who has been swinging the bat well thus far, will bat fourth.
“We are hoping (Cable) can get a little more aggressive in there,” said Bradley. “He is seeing the ball and hitting the ball really well as of now and that’s what we need.”