Like any coach in his first year with a new program, Mike Webster has had his fair share of challenges to overcome this spring with the Portage Central baseball team.
Just don’t count identifying young talent among those challenges.
The Mustangs are led by a pair of freshmen – Luke Leto and Gavin Brasosky – whose strong play has helped Portage Central to a 9-5 record as we sit roughly halfway through the regular season.
“We’ve got a couple freshmen who are probably going to be some of the most elite players in the state when they’re older,” Webster said of the duo.
Both players have contributed in different ways for the Mustangs so far this season. Brasosky has been a solid pitcher, posting a 3-1 record with a 4.00 ERA. Leto, the team’s starting shortstop, has a .435 batting average, which leads the team among all players with at least 20 at bats.
“They’re studs. There’s no other way I can put it,” said junior pitcher Bronson Wyman. “Brasosky, that kid’s an animal on the mound. Leto, he’s a great shortstop and can throw it well too. When they’re seniors, it will be a scary team to look out for.”
It may not take nearly that long. Leto has been limited in his appearances on the mound this year, as Webster tries to keep his arm fresh. Webster estimates that the highly-touted prospect, with an offer from Louisiana State University, will play 75-90 baseball games this year between varsity and travel ball.
“He has to be able to stay healthy until October,” Webster said. “This is his preseason. So we have to be real careful with how much he throws, and when he throws. We’re definitely going to try to get him more bullpen (sessions) and a few more times on the mound to get him ready for districts.”
Leto expects to be ready to pitch by districts, and if so, the Mustangs gain a starter who can throw a fastball in the low-90’s, with a curveball and splitter to compliment the heater.
“Towards the end, when we get to districts, I should be able to throw more,” Leto said.
Despite the high-level arm talent, it is shortstop that Leto prefers to play, partially because he likes to hit. And despite a rigorous baseball schedule, he’s happy to be out there representing his high school.
“I just come out and enjoy it,” he said. “I just love the game and want to play.”
While Leto and Brasosky have been key contributors for the Mustangs, Wyman has been the steady hand on the mound. The junior has been Portage Central’s primary pitcher, and has a 4-0 record and a 1.00 ERA.
“I’m feeling great out there. A lot of credit to the team,” Wyman said. “They’ve made a lot of good plays behind me. I only get about 2-3 strikeouts a game, so everything else is up to them, and they’re making all the plays.”
Despite an April filled with poor weather and several cancellations, Webster has seen his young team develop. He’s also looking forward to how much more he will see from now until districts.
“Every time we step on the field, it feels like the first time we’re seeing a lot of these kids compete,” Webster said.
“We’re real young. This is a new coaching staff. We’re still trying to piece puzzles together.”
Yet so far so good for the Mustangs, as this young team has found a way to mesh, and could very well be in store for a big second half.
“I think everything is going a lot better from our first practice, to now,” said Wyman. “We’ve all got that team chemistry, and it’s really starting to click now.”