The Newton Rebels begin their 10th season of play with a number of changes.



The Newton Rebels begin their 10th season of play with a number of changes.
After sharing field manager duties for several seasons, Chris Pate will lead the team as both field manager and general manager. The other co-manager, Sean Bechtold, will head up recruiting and game-day operations.
Two new coaches will join the staff this year. Jess Tracy will serve as assistant head coach. A Tabor College grad, Tracy is the head coach at Clearwater High School. He spent a season as field manager of the Newton Knights American Legion team and the Wichita Sluggers 17 and younger squad.
Shawn Bennett will serve as pitching coach. Bennett is the pitching coach at Wichita Independent High School. He coached the Wichita Wheatkings for two season and played for the Wichita Rattlers for two seasons.
The Rebels roster also has a new look with just two returning players and 24 junior college players.
“We have a ton of JUCO kids,” Pate said. “A lot of them were JUCO sophomores, so we have a lot more experience than we had last year. Most of the JUCO guys we got played substantial roles on their teams. Most of the ones we got were statistical leaders on their teams.”
A pair of notable names for the Rebels is Newton High School grad Nathan Briar, who is headed for Butler Community College as a pitcher and first baseman; and Lee Voth-Gaeddert, a Hesston native who finished up his sophomore season at Hesston College.
Voth-Gaeddert led the Larks in hitting at .466 with four home runs and 37 RBIs. Voth-Gaeddert played last season for the Salina Bluejays.
Briar helped lead the Railers to an 18-3 record and an Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II title this spring.
“Lee Voth-Gaeddert surprised a lot of guys,” Pate said. “He hit .300 for Salina, getting some good wood-bat experience. He re-wrote a lot of offensive records at Hesston. He will have a lot to offer. Nathan Briar is going to Butler. He will probably be a pitcher at Butler. We’re looking for a successful season for Nathan.”
Briar is the sole incoming freshman on the squad.
The sole returning players are pitcher Lucas Fornelli, a graduate of Emporia State, and catcher Monty Cooper, who will be a senior at Cameron University.
While last year’s team was deep in pitching, Pate is expecting his team to be better on offense this season.
“Last year, we had trouble consistently scoring runs,” Pate said. “We didn’t have a lot of extra-base hitters. We should be much improved offensively. We have multiple guys who led their teams on offense in multiple categories.”
Among some of the offensive leaders brought in are catcher-first baseman Scott Palmer of Newman, who led the Jets in batting average, slugging percentage and home runs; and John Clark, a first baseman from Seminole State in Oklahoma, where he hit .370 with 14 home runs and was an all-region selection. Outfielder Austin Rycroft of Seminole State hit .310 with seven home runs.
The Rebels don’t have any NCAA Division I players this season. The Rebels also don’t have any ex-professional players to start the year.
The Rebels were 31-28 last season, winning the Walter Johnson League Northern Division at 19-14. Newton lost the WJL pennant to Valley Center 2-1 in the best-of-three series. The Rebels placed third in the National Baseball Congress Midwest Regional and took second in the WJL post-season tournament, which earned the team a berth in the NBC World Series for the seventh straight year.
It was the first time the Rebels exited the NBC World Series in two games.
“We are playing at a level where just getting there is no longer just good enough,” Pate said. “We should be able to beat anybody on any day. Last year, the World Series was a microcosm of our season. In the first game, we put out our best pitcher and he had an off-day. Our defense didn’t help him. In our second game, we got much better pitching and defense and we couldn’t hit.”
There were few changes in the Walter Johnson League for this season. Newton remains in the Northern Division with the Salina Bluejays, Hutchinson Monarchs and Lindsborg Knights.
Returning to the Southern Division are the Valley Center Diamond Dawgs and the Park City Rangers. The Wichita Wheat Kings return after a year off. The Wichita Sluggers have merged with the Team Elite Kings to form the Wichita Elite Sluggers.
“Valley Center will have a lot of talent,” Pate said. “(Manager) Pat (Hon, a former Rebels coach) put together a very competitive team last year. We developed quite a rivalry with them. Park City was down last year, but I expect them to be back up this year. Hutchinson was the most improved team last season and they had the whole off-season to get better for this year. There won’t be any easy games this season. There won’t be any teams where you can just show up and expect to beat somebody.”
Newton’s non-league schedule includes a home-and-home series with the defending NBC World Series champion El Dorado Broncos and a pair of games against the Haysville Heat, the 2007 NBC champions which relocated from Lake Havasu, Ariz., and joined the Jayhawk League. Newton also plays a game against the independent Junction City Generals to close out the regular season.

NEWTON REBELS
BASEBALL
2010 Schedule
June 1 @ El Dorado Broncos 7 p.m.
June 2 El Dorado Broncos 7 p.m.
June 4 Hutchinson Monarchs 7 p.m.
June 5 Lindsborg Knights 7 p.m.
June 6 Lindsborg Knights (2) 6 p.m.
June 7 @ Haysville Heat 7 p.m.
June 9 Valley Center Diamonddawgs (2) 6 p.m.
June 10 @ Wichita Elite Sluggers (2) 6 p.m.
June 12 @ Salina Bluejays 7 p.m.
June 13 @ Wichita Wheatkings (2) 6 p.m.
June 15 Park City Rangers (2) 6 p.m.
June 16 @ Hutchinson Monarchs 7 p.m.
June 18 Lindsborg Knights (2) 6 p.m.
June 19 @ Valley Center Diamonddawgs (2) 2 p.m.
June 20 Salina Bluejays (2) 6 p.m.
June 23 @ Hutchinson Monarchs (2) 6 p.m.
June 24 @ Haysville Heat 7 p.m.
June 25 Hutchinson Monarchs (2) 6 p.m.
June 26 @ Park City Rangers (2) 6 p.m.
June 27 @ Lindsborg Knights (2) 5 p.m.
June 29 Wichita Elite Sluggers (2) 6 p.m.
July 1 Salina Blue Jays 7 p.m.
July 3 Wichita Wheatkings (2) 6 p.m.
July 6 @ Salina Blue Jays (2) 6 p.m.
July 15 @ Junction City Generals 7:05 p.m.
Post Season
July 9-12: WJL Championship Series
July 16-22: NBC Midwest Regional
July 24-28: WJL Tournament
July 31-Aug 15: NBC World Series