Coach Mark Loman and the Palmyra baseball team have won four straight Class 3 district championships. Unfortunately, each of the past four seasons has ended at the sectional.
Palmyra baseball coach Mark Loman is no stranger to success. In his 21 seasons as head coach (past 14 at Palmyra), the veteran skipper has compiled 300 wins, eight district championships, six conference titles and two state quarterfinal appearances.
Needless to say the bar is set high at Palmyra.
The Panthers have won four straight Class 3 district championships. Unfortunately, each of the past four seasons has ended at the sectional.
Although Loman and the Panthers obviously would like to end the sectional drought this season, he knows the team focus must begin elsewhere.
“We have had some success in years past and would like to continue that, but getting past that roadblock can’t be our main focus right now,” the Panthers skipper said. “We have to talk about performance instead of results and just take baby steps right now. We know what the tradition of this program is, but we are a long ways from there right now.”
Palmyra lost five seniors, four of which were starters, to graduation from last season’s 20-6 team. Two of those players earned all-state honors (Ben Cheffey and Tyler Damron).
As if the graduation hit wasn’t hard enough, the Panthers were hit by the injury bug before taking to the field.
Juniors Drew Begley and Noah Mencer, both who were all-conference selections in the Clarence Cannon Conference last season, are lost to season-ending injuries.
“We are an extremely young team, especially with Begley and Mencer out,” Loman noted.
But instead of rebuilding, the Panthers could possibly just reload. Despite just six upperclassmen on the roster, the strength of the team comes from its depth.
“We have eight sophomores who have the potential to play a significant role,” Loman explained. “Six of those players saw varsity action last year as freshmen and we have nine freshmen on the roster as well.”
The stalwart of the young core is sophomore Nolan Wosman. The all-conference and all-district selection will be the Panthers starting shortstop this season.
“Nolan solidifies our leadership as a sophomore this season,” the coach said. “Aside from starting at shortstop, he has a closer-type of arm who could come in and finish games out on the mound for us.”
Jacob Kroeger is another sophomore who will make an impact. The southpaw is expected to bat lead off and will anchor the pitching staff for Loman.
“He pitched a lot of innings last year, including the sectional, and was all-conference honorable mention,” Loman noted.
Hayden Hoerr is also a left-handed pitcher and is a sophomore as well.
Seniors Austin Riney and Brock Malone will see time on the mound, as will junior Peyton Plunkett and sophomore Caden Power.
Senior Jory Maddox is expected to bat in the No. 5 spot and patrol the outfield. Maddox was another all-conference honorable mention selection from last year.
Junior Gabe Goodwin and sophomore Brady Barnett are also expected to be in the mix for starting spots for the Panthers this season.
Loman mentioned his starters and lineup are far from being set in stone, but hope it sorts itself out by middle to the end of the season.
“Our lineup will evolve and change throughout the season for sure,” the veteran coach admitted. “We have some talent, now it's just a matter of putting the puzzle together by putting guys in the right place to make our team better."
Palmyra will play host to Mark Twain on Monday.