Van Buren, Alma ready for baseball season to start

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier
Forsgren starter Logan Taylor (Alma) throws against the Fort Smith Sportsman during the opening of the Katzer Round Robin at Hunts Park back on June 5, 2020. Taylor, a junior for Alma, will have a big presence for the Airedales this season on the mound.

Van Buren and Alma are ready to have a full baseball season.

Long-time assistant Luke Weatherford helms the Pointers after David Loyd's retirement, and the Airedales are hoping to see their first full season with new coach Brian Fry.

"I think I'll be enjoying all this snow more if it were January, and we didn't have our season starting in about a week," Fry said. "We're ready for this to end so the fields will dry out, and we can get back out there."

Both teams will be back on the field for nearly a year when the seasons were canceled, and between the spring and summer development seasons, the teams lost around 50 games each.

Some players did see some mound time and at-bats playing for the Fort Smith American Legion team this summer.

Alma opens its season on March 2 hosting Pea Ridge. Van Buren starts March 1 at Heritage in Rogers and won't have its first home game at the Field of Dreams on March 12.

Tanner Callahan and Connor Johnson pose with their coaches Luke Weatherford, David Lloyd (retired), and Ethan McKinzie after the signing ceremony back in November 2020 at the Van Buren Fine Arts Center. Both Callahan and Johnson are expected to have big roles for the Pointers this baseball season.

Players To Watch

Van Buren

Connor Johnson, SR, R/R: He's a three-year starter and is the Pointers' top returning pitcher. He had a good start last season with a 3-0 start as a junior. Coach Luke Weatherford: "He has really improved offensively and as a defender in the outfield." Will bat in the middle of the lineup. Johnson has signed with UCA.

Tanner Callahan, SR, L/R: Another three-year starter, Tanner returns for his second season at catcher. Weatherford: "He is one of our most mature hitters. He's really good defensively behind the plate and will shut down a lot of teams' running games." Callanan will also pitch for the first time this season, and Weatherford added that Callahan had one of the better arms during the offseason. Callahan has signed with Connors State (Oklahoma.)

Luke Hughes, SR, R/R: He's a two-year starter that can play anywhere in the outfield. Weatherford: "Luke has really good stuff and has improved every year and turned himself into a really good player. He will pitch a lot of big games for us. He has improved offensively and become more consistent in handling the bat." Hughes signed with Carl Albert. 

Alma

Logan Taylor, JR, L/L: He's a second-year starter and is one of three left-handed pitchers. Taylor is slated to throw in Alma's "big games" this season. Fry: "He knows how to compete, throws strikes, and shows confidence and poise every time out. We feel we have a chance anytime Logan is on the mound."

Kaleb Burdick, JR, R/R: Alma lost two senior catchers last year. Burdick stepped up at the beginning of summer and said he was taking the job. Fry: "He's developed a passion for it and has gained the respect of our entire pitching staff, which speaks volumes about a first-year catcher."

Josiah Weaver, SR, R/R:Weaver is emerging to be a threat at the plate and on the mound. Fry: "Josiah is a player that has made a name for himself by sheer effort and determination. He's strong for his frame, and offensively, we can see him putting up some good numbers. He's learning how to use his 6-3 frame off the mound, and with a little game experience, he could be great for us down the stretch."