Boyd, Evart ready for baseball action this week

EVART — Ready or not, the baseball season is about to begin for the Evart Wildcats.

Practices started on March 12 and because of June-like weather, the Wildcats, like most other schools were outdoors. In fact, a game at Harrison is scheduled for this Wednesday and the forecast is for temperatures in the 70s.

There were 26 total players that were on the squad during practices last week, said Evart baseball coach George Sims, calling that a “typical number.” He’ll divide that between the junior varsity and varsity squads.

Sims indicated Wednesday’s games at Harrison may be treated by both schools as a scrimmage. The Wildcats then play at Reed City for two games on March 27.

“We have a couple of key positions back,” said Sims, who returns players like seniors Preston Boyd at catcher and Jarek VanOrder at third base.

“Defensively, we should be strong up the middle,” Sims said. “We have Tyler Wirth back at shortstop. He’ll be a key to the season. He’s been injury prone.”

Sims noted that a third of the way into the season last spring, Wirth was injured and lost for the rest of the year.

“If I can get him back and healthy, he’ll be a key in anchoring our infield,” Sims said.

After the Reed City games, Evart goes on spring break. After some additional nonleague contests in early April, Highland Conference games will start in late-April.

On paper, Sims doesn’t have too much offensive power returning to his lineup.

“We’ll have to play an awful of small ball to score some runs,” he said.

Boyd will catch and will do some pitching. It’s his third year of catching. Last season, he was among the top catchers in the Highland Conference for throwouts. As a pitcher, he’s hoping his fastball will do the job.

“I’m looking for great things this year,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get a district championship.”

At the plate, Boyd is looking at hitting .350 or better. He was at .300 last spring

“I need to focus and keep calm at the plate,” he said. “I knew I can do it. I just have to execute.”

Boyd is hopeful the Wildcats can be a factor in the Highland Conference.

“The Highland has lost a few players from last year,” Boyd said. “There should be a few good teams. Pine River and Beal City should be good. I think Evart will be right up with them.”

Boyd is coming off a strong basketball season. He scored 25 points in a district semifinal upset win over Morley Stanwood.

“It was one of the games where I felt I couldn’t miss,” he said. “I knew when I put it up, it was going in. I scored 15 of my 25 in the fourth and overtime. Those two quarters, I couldn’t miss. You could tell there was an urgency on the team. We wish it didn’t end. You could tell the urgency there was with the team.”

The Wildcats lost to Shelby in the district finals and finished at 8-14.

“We had a tough conference and for the most part did our best,” Boyd said. “More wins would have been nice. But I like how we finished.”