LIMA — Lima Locos coach Chad Ehrnsberger has been champing at the bit all winter.
Now he’s just a couple weeks away from turning his team loose at Simmons Field.
“This is something I’ve been looking forward to since we lost last year (in the Great Lakes Collegiate tournament),” third-year Locos coach Ehrnsberger said. “We’ve been putting the team together since last August. It’s a long time coming.”
The Locos went 27-13 last year and finished first in the regular season in the GLCL. They lost in the GLCL tournament semifinals, 2-1, in the best-of-three playoffs to Licking County.
The team’s top two players from a year ago, outfielder Kyle Lewis (Mercer) and Shawnee grad pitcher Cory Wilder (North Carolina State), have both signed on to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League.
Lewis was the GLCL’s player of the year and the prospect of the year. Wilder, owner of a 94-95 mph fastball, was the GLCL’s pitching prospect of the year.
Three return from last year, including Shawnee grad pitcher Tyler Anderson (Bowling Green State). Last year with the Locos Anderson went 1-2 in relief with a 2.58 ERA.
Also back for Lima are pitchers Michael Bonifay (North Greenville) and Dan Sexton (Sinclair CC). Bonifay had a 1.80 in relief for the Locos. Bonifay, formerly at South Mountain College, went 6-3 with a 4.54 at North Greenville.
Sexton started five games with the Locos, going 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA. He was named first team all-GLCL. Sexton, formerly at Tiffin, went 9-0 with a 2.98 at Sinclair.
The Locos will also have area players Ohio Wesleyan infielder/pitcher Colin Stolly (Lima Central Catholic), Findlay pitcher Colin Gossard (Bath) and University of Cincinnati pitcher Tanner Schimmoeller (Ottawa-Glandorf).
This year Ehrnsberger had a much more active part in the recruiting process. In past years, Locos general manager Steve Meyer had handled the bulk of the recruiting.
“Last year I got about half the team. This year I got about 80-to-85 percent,” Ehrnsberger said. “I want guys playing every day in the spring. I want them at the best possible school and putting up good numbers. This year we have probably 10 or 11 position players who are starters on their spring team.”
Among the Locos’ everyday players are Creighton outfielders Brent Murray, who is hitting .298 with nine doubles and two home runs. He also has 24 RBI and two stolen bases.
Richmond shortstop Tyler Beckwith is hitting .266 with 13 doubles and six home runs. He has 25 RBI.
Kennesaw State second baseman Grant Williams is hitting .305 with three doubles and six stolen bases.
On the mound, Alabama-Birmingham’s Ryan Ruggles is 4-2 with a 3.05. He has 31 strikeouts in 38 innings. Georgia State reliever Logan Barnett is 2-0 with a 0.54 over 17 innings.
At Simmons Field, new, pro-style dugouts are expected to be in place, along with new lights.
“It helps as players when you are surrounded by nicer things,” Ehrnsberger said.
The team’s home exhibitions games will be a 4:30 p.m. doubleheader on May 31 against Portland; a 7 p.m. game on June 1 against the Ottawa Legion; and 7 p.m. game June 2 against Summit City.
Opening night in the GLCL is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4 against Grand Lake.