Photo courtesy of Bloomingdale Baseball. The Bulls huddle up for a fall game against Riverview.

The Bloomingdale High School baseball team is looking to build off of a successful 2018 season in which they won their first ever district championship under 12-year Head Coach Kris Wilken. The Bulls (18-8) eventually lost to a very talented Plant team in the regional quarterfinals in an extra-inning thriller.

According to Wilken, he has a special team this year. “This team seems really unique,” he said. “The players are all very hard-working kids with great grades, and the chemistry between them has been better than any team I’ve had. What I’m looking forward to most is seeing how much impact all of those factors will have on our overall success.”

With eight key starters returning for the 2019 season, the Bulls look like a team that can repeat as 8A-District 6 champs and make some noise in the regional playoffs. The offense will be led by senior outfielder Bryce Hazzard (Nova Southeastern signee), junior Wake Forest commit Brock Wilken, junior dual-sport athlete Dominic Gonnella, junior infielder/outfielder Jackson Hobbs, last season’s team MVP and South Florida State College signee Nico Saladino and senior Presbyterian College signee Kyle Merkle. Aces of the pitching staff, senior Myles Caba (South Florida State College signee) and senior Justin Mcallister will pitch the majority of innings. Dylan Martin will get some crucial innings as well.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what all this talent can do,” said Gonnella. “Our team is filled with athleticism, and I’m looking forward to seeing what all that hard work is gonna produce. I’m thinking it could be something special.”

“Our goal as a team is simply to compete and win every game no matter the opponent,” said Caba. “We also want to defend our district championship and make a run to the state championship.”

Bloomingdale will host the Preseason Classic starting on February 19. The Bulls will play Armwood and King in the tournament.

“We want to find our identity as early as possible and what our capabilities are,” said Wilken.

“Once we know who we are and what we are capable of, it’s maximizing our capabilities and sticking to our identity every day.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.