The West Jefferson High School baseball team is as blue collar as they come.
The Roughriders work hard, do the little things and enjoy the process of turning themselves into league contenders. Coach Jason Bogenrife has his team focused on the task at hand and looking forward to the upcoming season.
“We feel our kids have worked extremely hard in the off-season, both on improving their baseball skills and in the weight room,” the coach said. “We believe we have great kids. Turn out is very good. The boys are focused and are committed.”
Under Bogenrife the West Jeff program has gained the reputation for being a tough, hard-nosed squad that plays solid defense and relies on solid pitching. He said those qualities are what this team is all about.
“We are definately looking to continue to play tough defense and we have built our program around pitching,” he said. “We have tough kids who get after it. The added benefit we expect to see this year is improved offensive output. We had seven sophomores and freshman hit in our lineup last year so we believe a year of growth will be noticed this year.”
While there are some younger players who have grown in the last year, the team will still be led by a collection of veterans. Those players include senior catcher Zane Robertson, juniors Shane Gray (P/IF), Conner Shields (OF), Lance Lambert (P/IF), Cole Howard (C) and Jake Boyd (P/OF).
“Depth is a strength,” Bogenrife said. “Another area of strength is our team culture. Our players believe in each other and the process. We need to continue to prepare and play process driven and not focused on the outcome.”
The Roughriders were 16-10 a season ago and finished third in the Mid-State League Ohio Division. The coach expects annual league contenders Bexley and Columbus Academy to be strong again but he is also expecting his team to be in the championship mix.
“Winning the conference is goal one on our list every year, so the same is expected this year,” Bogenrife said.
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.