VAN ALSTYNE — With spring comes another Van Alstyne baseball season. After a successful 2017 season that saw the Panthers go 14-10-3 overall and 8-4 in District 10-3A to return to the playoffs before a bi-district round loss against Pottsboro, a seasoned core is ready to hit the field.


“Hopefully, contend for a district title this year with all of our returning pitching and infield players,” head coach Jimmy Haynes said, laying out his 2018 vision. “Our strength should be pitching. Our hitting and our defense must improve in order for us to contend for a district title. We have eight returning starters from last year’s district runner-up team.


With five returning seniors, two returning juniors, and one returning sophomore, Haynes has a positive outlook on the season.


Senior Chase Wilson is a returning all-district infield while classmate Hunter Hutchison was a second-team all-district selection and will hold down first base as well as be one of the returning pitchers. Senior Zane Madison will also fill in at first base.


Junior Tyler Wilson, is a returning first team all-district infielder and will be asked to pitch more this year than last year.


Senior Tyler Neshyba is the returning starting catcher.


“Tyler has steadily, improved over last year,” Haynes said. “We are looking for Tyler to lead our returning pitching staff this year.”


Junior Rhett Gallagher returns as Van Alstyne’s main pitcher. He was the 10-3A Pitcher of the Year last year and will also play the outfield and catch. Junior Tyler Sperry will be a set up pitcher as well as a spot starter this year. Senior Jordan Velekei is another returning starting pitcher.


“We expect Jordan’s workload on the mound to increase this year,” Haynes said. “Jordan also possess a strong present as a hitter.


Sophomore Samuel Tormos returns as a starting pitcher after also contributing at third base as a freshman.


“We look for better things from Samuel as both a starting pitcher and third baseman,” Haynes said.


Senior Scott Taylor was the starting center fielder last year but is recovering from knee surgery.


“We hope to get him back before the season’s over,” Haynes said.


Senior Vance Watkins possesses an excellent knowledge of the game, will play some outfield and possibly catch as well. Sophomore Cam Montgomery will have an impact this year as an outfielder.


Junior Nathan Cuthbertson will see more time in both the infield and outfield this year while junior Chandler David will serve as a utility player — pitching and playing the infield and outfield. Junior Jesse Love will see time as an outfielder.


Junior Sam Mosby will play some second base early in the season.