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Oracles baseball heads into season with reloaded roster




Keigan Watts throws a pitch in the Class 2A Semi-state championship game on Saturday, June 10, 2023, during the IHSAA baseball game at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. Photos by/Clay Maxfield

Keigan Watts throws a pitch in the Class 2A Semi-state championship game on Saturday, June 10, 2023, during the IHSAA baseball game at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. Photos by/Clay Maxfield

With an influx of six potential seniors this season along with five juniors, all of whom were a part of last season’s semistate runner-up roster, Delphi’s varsity baseball team is equipped with another loaded squad that is sure to compete come the end of May.

“We have some big shoes to fill with the seniors we lost but we’re looking for big things out of our returning kids,” Delphi head coach Ryan Long said. “There are returners who all played last year and were a big part of our success and getting to semi-state. Positive outlook, we’ll have a lot of faces out there who don’t have experience at the varsity level, but we’re excited to grow as the season goes on.”

Delphi graduated five seniors last season, two of whom went on to continue their baseball careers collegiately in Chase Long and Cole Long.

As the Oracles look to bounce back from last season’s roster turnover, the goals are the same.

“The expectations here have always been to win when it matters at the end. … It says a lot about the culture and expectations of kids moving forward. We talk about how we’ve got kids without varsity experience who are going to get opportunities to contribute but they’re still a part of that culture every day,” Long said.

Chase Almager retreats to first base while avoiding the out on Saturday, June 10, 2023, during the IHSAA baseball game at Kokomo Municipal Stadium in Kokomo.

Chase Almager retreats to first base while avoiding the out on Saturday, June 10, 2023, during the IHSAA baseball game at Kokomo Municipal Stadium in Kokomo.

“The expectations are high and have always been set high through the coaching staff and extension of that through our seniors.”

That same culture brought them to a game away from the state finals last year when they fell to Illiana Christian in the semi-state championship while they’ve now won four consecutive sectional championships.

Seniors Chase Almager and Jaxson Hixson will make up part of their firepower from the mound as Brett Huffman and Keigan Watts also round out part of the team’s arms.

Huffman returns with the leading earned run average of 1.60 in 10 appearances while Hixson notched 4.15 in 16 games last season.

Long noted that the array of pitching weapons at his team’s disposal has given his staff hope as one of the many areas that they look to be strong in this upcoming season.

“We’re excited about our pitching staff. We return a lot of young guys that saw a lot of tournament experience. … All were starters at some point in the tournament last year, so we return a lot of pitchers who had quality innings in big games down the stretch last year and we’re excited to see how they continue to grow and the success they’ll have this year,” he said.

Delphi starts its season out on the road on April 5 against West Lafayette before hosting Madison Grant in a doubleheader on April 6.

Hixson leads a lineup of returning hitters from a year ago with a .412 batting average while Almager and Brady Little each hit .350 or better in 2023.

As upcoming underclassmen step up to the plate with their number being called, Long notes his team is in good hands thanks in part to the leaders he has on his roster.

“We don’t see it as pressure, we see it as a challenge,” he said. “Leadership is handed from one senior class to the next. It’s an expectation that our seniors are going to lead by example, work ethic and doing all of the little things right so that transfers over from class to class.”