The Marion County baseball team and head coach Jason Keilholz hope to plug gaps after losing seven starters to graduation.

A season ago the Marion County baseball team won 15 games before losing a heart-breaking 1-run decision in the first round of the district tournament.

Just prior to the start of this season, instead of focusing on how his Mustangs could better last season’s record, head coach Jason Keilholz was faced with a bigger issue.

“We thought we would be in a situation where we were not going to have enough to play,” the fifth-year coach admitted.

The Mustangs lost 12 players to graduation, seven of which were starters.

It takes nine players to field a complete baseball team. Marion County will start the season with 10 on its roster.

“I am extremely grateful for the kids who have committed to come out and play so we can keep the program going,” Keilholz continued. “It’s just a testament to the kind of kids we have here at Marion County and the pride they have in their school and community.”

Junior Ty Bowdish and sophomore Sheldon Whetstone are the lone returning starters for the Mustangs.

Bowdish will split time at first base and pitching duties, while Whetstone will be the starting shortstop.

Mackenzie Smith and freshman Brennan Nick will compete at third base and second base, respectively, rounding out the infield.

“Mackenzie is someone who did not play during our fall season but has emerged as someone who has helped make our lineup better by allowing other guys to play their natural position,” the Mustangs coach said.

Freshman Case Wolfe will be the backstop for Marion County.

Seniors Geordan Bimson and Eric Bonney will patrol the outfield along with sophomore Logan Sherfy.

Bonney and Sherfy are both members of the Mustangs track and field team as well.

“We will have good speed in the the outfield,” Keilholz noted. “So we hope to be able to use that to our advantage both defensively and on offense.”

Junior Alex Huffman will be another starting pitcher for the Mustangs and will play first when Bowdish toes the rubber.

Senior Dylan Chatfield rounds out the Mustangs roster and will fill in where needed.

Keilholz mentioned as the season progresses and his team gains more playing experience, he hopes to see results.

“Beyond team speed being one of our best assists, we just need to focus on contact at the plate and fundamentals on defense,” the Mustangs coach said. “Our weakness will be lack of experience in game situations, but hopefully working on the little things will pay off down the road and we can just be competitive early on and peak at the right time before districts.”

Marion County opens its season Tuesday against visiting Knox County.