The Bishop Garrigan Golden Bear baseball team enters the 2023 season looking to build off of the foundation put into place in 2022. After starting the year with a record of 8-10, the Golden Bears ripped off 11 wins in 13 games on their way to a district title and a spot in the substate game against perennial power Newman Catholic, a game the Golden Bears ultimately lost 2-0.
Co-Head Coach Brian Patterson says the team had great attendance at offseason workouts.
The Golden Bears return a core group of seniors from last year’s 19-13 team, a group that Patterson says knows how to operate at this point in their careers.
Senior Garrett Heying has been a cornerstone of the team for the last several seasons behind home plate, while also adding a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Heying, who hit over .400 in 2021, ended last season with a .367 batting average with a team leading 25 runs batted in and 13 extra base hits. Heying will continue his baseball career at Viterbo next season.
In addition to Heying, senior Drew Fogarty is expected to make a big impact, both on the mound and in the batters box. Fogarty compiled a record of 6-3 last season while pitching in many of Bishop Garrigan’s most high profile matchups. Fogarty served as a workhorse at the top of the rotation, making 10 starts while pitching 62 innings, leading the Top of Iowa West in both categories, while posting a 3.05 ERA and 67 strikeouts compared to only 27 walks.
Senior Nathan Merron is another key arm returning in addition to Fogarty. Merron finished with a record of 5-1 last year to go with a 2.91 ERA in 43.1 innings pitched, striking out 29 and walking just 10.
Senior Cal Birkey is expected to continue providing good defense in center field and setting the tone on offense. Birkey hit .375 last year and swiped a team leading 18 bases.
Fogarty and Heying both come off of first team all-conference selections last year, while Birkey landed on the second team, and Merron was Bishop Garrigan’s honorable mention for the Top of Iowa West.
Patterson expects more players than just the seniors to step up this season, especially when it comes to pitching.
The Golden Bears will face a balanced league, with several contenders for the conference title expected to make noise in the Top of Iowa West.
Forest City is the defending conference champion after a controversial finish to the regular season last year, while Bishop Garrigan, Garner Hayfield Ventura, North Union, and Eagle Grove all stayed in contention for last year’s league title into the final games of the season.
Patterson feels the team got a taste of the type of success they wanted to have last season, and will look to take the next step this year.
The Golden Bears open up the season with the crosstown game against Algona on May 19th. After that, Bishop Garrigan will be tested against defending North Central Conference champion Webster City and 2022 class 1A runner-up Remsen St. Mary’s on the 20th, before playing their first Top of Iowa West game on the 22nd, hosting Belmond-Klemme.