North Platte doesn’t want to take a step back, so the Panthers need a new crop of players to step up.
With just four returning starters, North Platte hopes the successes of last year can help push the program forward. The Panthers went 9-14 and 3-9 in the KCI Conference — the most league wins for the struggling program since 2009.
North Platte’s season ended with a loss to Mid-Buchanan in the Class 2 District 16 semifinals.
“We have a good group of juniors and seniors that have been with me the last three years, and this year they’ve earned their turn to step up and show me and North Platte what they’ve got,” North Platte coach Grant Tysdahl said.
North Platte’s biggest issue will be trying to find replacement pitching.
Blake Toliver served as ace for much of last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Andrew Roberts, an All-KCI and all-district shortstop, took over and developed into a tough matchup after rejoining the team for his senior season.
With both seniors gone, the rotation will be developing.
“The biggest thing is we’ve lost a lot of pitching over the last couple years so we need some guys to step up there so that’s going to be our main focus,” Tysdahl said. “Good teams are going to put the ball in play so our focus is just throwing strikes and playing good defense.”
North Platte also lost all-district third baseman Bryntin Crockett.
Returners include shortstop Hunter Oliver, catcher Garrett Lamar, outfielder Mark Fisher and utility player Halen Knapp. Tysdahl expects contributions from senior Jake Stubbs and juniors Trevor Lamar, Remington Wilson and Austin Snook.