Entering the 2022 hardball campaign, the Batesville Bulldogs of coach Justin Tucker are the defending IHSAA sectional champions as well as defending trophy-winners of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference. 
Then count at least 10 returning contributors and, by the way, the arrival of Ohio State recruit Charlie Schebler from neighboring Oldenburg Academy. These facts point to a well-deserved No. 5 ranking in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Pre-Season Poll for Class 3A. (Andrean received the most votes).
There's experience and talent all over the diamond for the Dogs this spring, after running up an impressive 22-6 record in 2021.
As a freshman, first baseman Jack Grunkemeyer hit at a .391 clip, knocked in 21 runs and posted a .981 OPS. On the mound, the right-hander added 16 1/3 innings with a tidy 2.14 earned run average. Senior outfielder Will Meer compiled a .357 average in limited plate appearances and swiped a dozen bags. Senior backstop Zach Wade finished at .333, plated 17 runs and collected a .930 OPS.
In his sophomore year, Max Baumer batted a solid .321, tallied 21 runs batted in, sent two over the fence and finished with an .848 OPS. The big righty also tossed 19 frames with a nice 2.21 ERA and a pair of saves. Another key senior for Tucker and his staff is outfielder Travis Lecher. He hit .289 (.822 OPS) with three dingers (8 extra-base hits), 13 RBI and nine steals while pitching sparingly.
The expected ace is senior Jacob Meer. Last season, he logged 45 2/3 stanzas and a shiny 1.84 ERA while posting six victories. Meer fanned 42 batters but also walked 32. Right behind him is senior Will Habig, who averaged nearly a strikeout per inning (18.1 frames) while winning three times and keeping his ERA at 1.15. Senior Luke Wilson (8 stolen bases) is another returning arm whose main haunt will be the outfield. Classmate Cole Werner also calls outfield home; as a junior, Werner hit .279 and got on base at a .354 clip.
Junior Willy Sherwood is a speedy outfielder who hit .304 in 32 plate appearances and stole 12 bases. Sophomore Chris Lewis will vie for time at the hot corner, next to shortstop Schebler.
Adding to the talented senior class are outfielder Brady Hornberger and right-handed hurlers Dime Adams and Derric Gunter. Freshman Will Jaisle is expected to compete for time as a utilityman and right-handed thrower.
Batesville opens Friday at Southwestern Hanover, followed by a home softball-baseball combo with Rising Sun Saturday. The EIAC gets underway quickly with Monday's trip to play an improved Connersville Spartan squad.