A changing of the guard.
After 30 years with Don Lyons in charge of the Denison High School baseball team, the 2019 version will have different leadership with Travis Wessel taking over a Denison-Schleswig program aspiring to continue an effort to keep the long-lasting Monarch tradition alive and well.
Wessel played and coached under Lyons, pitching the Monarchs to the 1994 Class 3A state championship and spending the last five years directing the D-S freshmen on the diamond.
A year ago, D-S went 8-12 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference and 17-19 overall.
Five members of that team graduated, including the team’s top four hitters and a three-year starter at catcher.
"That’s an early concern, as they all hit for power and had speed," Wessel said. "And losing a three-year starter behind the plate will be a major hole to fill."
The Monarchs will be strong on the hill, though, as seven of the team’s top eight pitchers from a year ago are back in uniform for Wessel, who will be joined on the field by first-year assistant coach Jacob Brawner, who also serves as an assistant wrestling coach at DHS.
Chad Van Kley, the school’s head football and boys’ track and field coach, took over Wessel’s previous position as the school’s baseball coach at the freshmen level.
D-S will return four starters and 10 lettermen in all from last year’s club that saw it season end in a 10-5 loss to Harlan in a district final contest at Harlan.
Returning starters are seniors Dawson Dorhout (IF/P), Jaden Petersen (IF/P) and Sean Moran (IF); and junior Jack Mendlik (IF/OF/P).
Other returning veterans for the Monarchs are seniors Dylan Gehlsen (OF/P) and Austin Freese (C); sophomores Carter Wessel (IF/P), Evan Turin (OF/P) and Nathan Gallup (C/P/IF); and freshman Trey Brotherton (IF/OF/P).
Mendlik is the team’s top hitter back after batting .322 with 19 hits to go with 12 runs batted in and 21 runs scored.
Gallup hit .333 with nine hits in 27 at-bats, recording one double, seven RBIs and 15 runs scored.
Moran was a .271 hitter a year ago with 26 hits, including eight doubles to go with 17 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
Dorhout hit .260 with 25 hits, including six doubles, while driving in 18 runs and scoring 13 runs.
Dorhout leads the Monarch returners on the hill, as he went 8-1 overall with a 3.08 earned run average in 52-plus innings with 45 strikeouts and only 15 walks.
His effort on the mound earned him a spot on the all-conference second team.
Depth in innings pitched is a plus for D-S on the mound with Petersen (39 2/3), Mendlik (32), Turin (18 1/3), Wessel (18), Gallup (16 2/3) and Gehlsen (13 1/3).
"Our pitching staff will be deep, as we only lost one pitcher that had significant innings. They will be experienced," Wessel said.
"Our overall team defense should be solid with depth and options at each position. It seems we have good team cohesion and players that want to grind day-in and day-out for each other," added the Monarch boss, whose team will open its season on Tuesday, May 21, at Spencer in a varsity-only game at 5:30 p.m.
According to Wessel, the Hawkeye 10 race in 2019 will be tight.
"Being new this year, but part of the program for the last five years, typically Harlan, Lewis Central, Kuemper Catholic and Council Bluffs St. Albert have been in the top five year-in and year-out," Wessel said.
"Looking at the returning players, I don’t see much change there. Our goal is to finish in the top five and finish with at least a .500 record in the conference," the Monarch boss stated.
Wessel said he hopes to see improvement with each game.
"With the depth and experience on the mound, I hope to improve on last year’s record. It’s a tough schedule again, but we’ll put a competitive team on the field each day," Wessel said.
2019 Monarch Roster
Austin Freese, C; Jaden Petersen, IF/P; Dylan Gehlsen, OF/P; Sean Moran, IF; Dawson Dorhout, IF/P
Jack Mendlik, OF/P; Kane Langenfeld, OF; Logan Dahm, OF/P; Avery Zenk, OF/C; Carlos Salazar, OF/P
Braiden Heiden, IF/P; Carter Wessel, IF/P; Nathan Gallup, C/IF/P; Javier Gonzales, IF/P; Yahir Zavala, OF/P; Caden Fletcher, OF/IF/P; Evan Turin, OF/P; Parker Bekkerus, IF/P; Collin Scheuring, IF
Devin Fink, OF; Harrison Dahm, IF/C/P’ Hunter Emery, IF/P; Jacob Boelter, OF/P; Trey Brotherton, IF/OF/P; Kyle Segebart, IF