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Cozad Reds are inexperienced, but ready to prove themselves in 2020

 Cozad Reds catcher and pitcher Jacob Engel participates in a drill during team practice. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
Cozad Reds catcher and pitcher Jacob Engel participates in a drill during team practice. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV) (KNOP)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 4:48 PM CDT
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The Cozad Reds have a young roster this season, The city of Cozad cancelled the PONY (little league) baseball league this year, so the Reds juniors team picked up a lot of the younger players. The seniors do not have many returning starters, only two or three, according to head coach Tysen Werner, and the roster will feature a lot of players who played junior ball last season.

Regardless of age or experience, the players are ready to get their season started.

"They're wanting to get out and play, they're ready to practice, I think they're excited to be with their friends again," Werner said.

One of the returning starters to the seniors team is shortstop Austin Werner, and he likes how the team has looked so far in practices.

"We've got a fresh new team coming in, and bunch of new fresh players, so I'm just curious to see how we're going to do," Austin Werner said. "I think we should be pretty good, we look pretty sharp at practice, so I think we'll be pretty competitive this year."

One player who will have an expanded role this season is Jacob Engel, who will be the team's primary catcher, and spent most of last season playing for the junior team. Engel does not have much experience catching in his career, so he has been working with the team's pitching staff to become more comfortable behind the plate.

"I'm just kind of figuring out some of the guys, how fast they throw, what kind of pitches they have. Tt's a new learning experience for me," Engel said.

With an inexperienced team, the Reds might have a slow start to the season, but the players have good chemistry, and hope that can help them succeed.

"Something we're probably going to struggle with in the beginning is experience. As a collective group, we've been playing for the past four years. We'll be pretty strong team bonding wise, and we'll be able to persevere through a couple things," Engel said. "We're trying to get off to a pretty decent start, because that's what we've been struggling with the past couple of years. We're trying to turn that all around this year, not having very many returning starters from last year, we're trying to take what we get from our new coaches and put it towards the games."

Coach Werner is confident with the group he has this season, and hopes they can incorporate things they learned from former Reds players.

"I think we had a good group last year, and these guys played under them. I think they trained pretty well under them, so they were ready if they needed to come in. I think we'll be ready to go," Tysen Werner said.

The Reds' first game is Saturday, June 20, hosting Ogallala. The players will make sure they appreciate being able to play games this summer.

"A lot of us have been taking sports for granted the past however many years we've had them with no problems, and it's going to be kind of bittersweet to have the feeling that we're back here playing, and how easy it could be taken away from us," Engel said.

"I think it'll be great to be back on the field, but I think it'll make me really reflect on how lucky I am to be back playing," Austin Werner said.

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