Eight returning starters are ready to play baseball for Mabel-Canton this spring. That will be a definite strength for the Cougars, who had no seniors on the roster last year.

Senior pitcher/first baseman Collin O'Bieglo made the all-conference team last year. He was also voted Most Valuable Player in team awards. O'Bieglo pitched more innings (41.2) than any other Cougar last season.

Senior pitcher/catcher Noah Manning has earned honorable mention on the All-SEC list three times. Another returning award-winning player is junior pitcher/infielder Wesley Richert. He hit .304 last season and was voted Hardest Worker by teammates.

Other returning starters include junior pitcher/first baseman Jon Selness, junior centerfielder Keyser Wenthold (who led the team at the plate, hitting .333 last season), sophomore outfielder Bryce Michels, sophomore utility player Tanner Fairchild (catcher/pitcher/infielder), and freshman Weston Whalen, who is listed at the same positions.

They're joined by several returning letter-winners, including senior pitcher/infielder Riley Marlow, sophomore outfielder Mitchell Lee, sophomore outfielder Wyatt Frederickson, freshman outfielder Jarod Batres, and freshman outfielder Talon Peterson.

Veteran head coach Karl Urbaniak has led the program since 1985. He's joined by assistant coach Paul Tollefsrud, who's been with M-C baseball for seven years.

Urbaniak said the Cougars can count on an experienced pitching staff, along with the return of most of the team's "core players."

"We expect to be pretty good if we play solid defense and pitch with control," he noted. The Cougars should battle for the Southeast Conference title, Urbaniak said.

In 2013, M-C posted a record of 3-16 overall, 2-10 SEC.

The Cougars were scheduled to begin play at St Charles on Monday, April 21, then host Schaeffer Academy the following night. On April 24, M-C hits the road for Lyle/Pacelli. On Friday, April 25, Houston visits M-C.

Check next week's News-Record for a complete report of these games.