Oberthien takes reins for Bobcat baseball
New Marshalltown High School head baseball coach Todd Oberthien wants to help make the MHS diamond a destination again.
After enduring back-to-back single-win seasons for the first time in at least 45 years, the Bobcat baseball team is under new leadership again. Oberthien, who was a member of two state championship teams at Solon High School, hopes to bring the same savvy and know-how to a proud program that is trying to climb out of its current funk.
MHS went 5-20 in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign and then 6-31 last summer, and there’s not a lot of ways to sugarcoat that lack of success. Oberthien, an assistant coach at Marshalltown Community College as well, said the Bobcats will have to take a long, hard look in the mirror to make their way back to being competitive night in and night out.
“They want to turn things around and get back to the history and the tradition of what Marshalltown baseball used to be,” Oberthien said. “The qualities that consists of is making sure the kids have good, basic fundamentals, making sure the kids are playing the game hard and with effort and playing with respect and the right way, and really to have a team mentality about it all the time.
“Just getting a lot of kids to go out in general and having a bigger program is really important.”
The number of participants has cratered. Marshalltown will field a varsity team and one freshman squad, a far cry from the likes of suburban Central Iowa Metropolitan League schools. The Bobcats will only have to endure one more summer of CIML scheduling as the Iowa Alliance Conference kicks into gear next school year.
Until then, however, Oberthien doesn’t want to have to worry about who is filling the other dugout. Marshalltown has to get back to playing the level of baseball it needs to compete, and that’s challenging enough.
“I want them to think of it not so much as we have to win every single game,” Oberthien said, “I want them to give their best effort and I want them to play good, clean Bobcat baseball, and I want them to think about the show they’re putting on for everyone else who gets to come watch.”
Oberthien will turn to three team captains to carry the expectations from the coaching staff to the less experienced players. When a team vote seeking one captain resulted in a three-way tie, Oberthien tagged all three players with the captaincy.
Senior Ziek Slocum and juniors Nick Rebik and Seth Smith will don the moniker of co-captains for Marshalltown this season. All three will be called upon as leaders on the field and off whether it be by example or with a strong voice.
“They’ve done a really good job so far and a lot of it is just being super vocal and super fun and positive,” Oberthien said. “We’re really trying to be positive in what we do. I don’t think negativity is going to take this team very far right now.
“We’re trying to build the program through positivity, being a good teammate, making sure that we’re always doing what we’re supposed to do and what’s best for the team.”
Oberthien pointed to a number of players he expects to contribute for the Bobcats this season, recognizing those three captains as the top returning hitters and pitchers for the most part.
Senior Alex Thompson will serve multiple roles, as will juniors Kaden Ricken and Keiler Blue. Sophomore Caleb Kusserow and freshman Sam Greazel are expected to contribute, and Oberthien said youngsters like freshmen Fabian Segovia and Zandor Stupp and eighth-graders Nick Wise and Jacob Hayes should get the chance to play a part as well.
“I really hope it becomes an impactful thing for people to come out and enjoy Bobcat baseball again,” Oberthien said. “The more people we can entertain and give them something to feel proud about, I think it’s really important and that’s what we tell our guys: take everything seriously, want to be a winner.
“When the lights are on, I want people to know the lights are on and for people to come out and have a good experience and then hopefully our players do well enough and the winning will come with that.”
Marshalltown’s season starts with a pair of doubleheaders in Des Moines this week. The Bobcats visit Hoover on Monday and Roosevelt on Tuesday. The team’s home opener is May 23 against Ankeny Centennial.