EVART —  A high number of returning players has Evart baseball coach Josh Johnson optimistic as he heads into the season.

The Wildcats lost 8-5 and 12-4 to Vestaburg last week in the season opener prior to spring break this week.

“In the second game, our bats came to life,” Johnson said. “Chris Imhoff got a home run, which is kind of cool.”

During the day, Nolan VanOrder and Andrew Maxwell both had a single and RBI, Cody Pritchard delivered a single and double and Trevin Ladd had a single.

Evart has eight returning players including VanOrder at center field and pitcher, Adam Zinger at infield and pitcher, Andrew Bengry at infield and pitcher, Robbie Tapling at infield and outfield, Ladd at infield, Noah Drake at infield, outfield and pitcher and Imhoff at catcher and pitcher.

“Lane Nadig is an interesting situation this year,” Johnson said. “He’s going to play for both JV and varsity. Any time I have a chance to bring him to the varsity team, he’s going to play.”

Evart didn’t have a junior varsity team last year and that factor didn’t allow players like Nadig to pitch too much. It’s a different situation this season.

Evart has a new policy that allows athletes to play dual sports. Pritchard’s primary sport is track and he’ll go with that sport if there’s a conflict.

Bengry, Ladd and Tapling have baseball as their main sport but also will cross over into track.

Johnson acknowledged the opportunities to get outside have been few. But he’s optimistic over his team’s prospects.

“I like what we’ve got this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of energy with these guys this year. I like that. There’s positive energy. We’re going to expect to win every game. That’s one of our mottos.”

But with the Highland Conference featuring Pine River and Beal City, the schedule won’t be easy.

Evart returns from break with a home game April 15 with Glen Lake and a trip to Beaverton April 18. The conference season begins April 20 at Lake City. The home Cat Classic is May 9.