New Mehlville High baseball coach looks to continue winning tradition

Mehlville High baseball team to face Seckman on Monday


The new coach of the Mehlville Senior High School baseball team plans to continue the winning tradition established over the past several seasons.

Bob Kern, brother of former head coach Jim Kern, has taken over the program after spending last season as head coach at Harris-Stowe State University. Kern looks to improve on last season’s record of 16-8 with a 4-4 mark in Suburban West Conference play.

“We’ve got a good group of kids that work hard,” Kern told the Call. “Our goal is to maintain a program that can compete on a state level year in and year out.”

The team’s strength this season will be its one-two combination of starting pitchers Kevin Mahler and Barry Gregg.

Mahler was 3-1 last season with a 4.85 earned run average. The senior pitcher/outfielder struck out 39 batters and kept opponents to a cool .227 batting average. At the plate, Mahler led the Panthers with a .448 batting average and 31 runs batted in.

“Kevin’s a tough kid, and when his command is on, he’s very, very tough to hit,” Kern said. “He’s a very competitive kid that’s also a smart baseball player.”

Gregg posted a record of 4-1 last season with a 3.26 earned run average. The senior pitcher/outfielder also struck out 18 batters and held opposing batters to a .227 batting average.

Gregg also held a .273 batting average with two home runs and 15 runs batted in.

“Barry has decent velocity with a really tough changeup,” Kern said. “I think that with these two guys, we have two legitimate high school No. 1 pitchers.”

Senior Jason Nikolaisen and junior Ethan Stenger will compete for the No. 3 starting pitcher’s slot.

Nikolaisen appeared in seven games last season and posted a record of 1-2 with a 5.78 earned run average. The senior pitcher/left fielder also batted .290 with four runs batted in.

“Jason will be battling for that No. 3 spot,” Kern said. “He needs to keep the ball down because he doesn’t overpower people. He’s the type of pitcher that gets a lot of first-pitch strikes and works off of that.”

Stenger arrives to the varsity squad with a solid arm.

“Ethan’s a hard thrower,” Kern said. “He’s got good command of three pitches and his potential upside is significant.”

Behind the plate will be senior Bill Cartee and junior John Brinkmann.

Cartee carried a .200 batting average last season with one run batted in.

“We’re going to rotate these guys until somebody steps up and has the ability to catch our pitching staff,” Kern said. “Both are pretty much equal in terms of ability.”

At shortstop this season will be Tom Case. The senior infielder batted .226 last season with one home run and 11 runs batted in.

“Tom’s a very good defensive player,” Kern said. “He’s also becoming a better of-fensive player at the plate.”

Senior Adam DeBuque will man third base and is expected to be one of the cornerstones to the team’s defense.

“He’s a guy that’s a good defensive player and is continually improving offensively,” Kern said. “We look to him for a lot of defensive help and leadership.”

After competing in the Lindbergh/Mehlville Invitational this week, the Panthers will travel to Seckman for a non-conference game with the Jaguars at 4:15 p.m. Monday.