Corbin Westerkamp

Pella Christian's Corbin Westerkamp returns to the lineup for the Eagles

PELLA — The Pella Christian baseball team is under new leadership this year as Chris Fynaardt takes over as head coach after spending the last seven years in the program. The Eagles were 9-19 last year and will need to replace six starters going into 2023.

Leading the way on the group of returnees are seniors Corbin Westerkamp, Lincoln Vander Molen, Collin VanderWal, juniors Caleb Van Arendonk, Trevor Veenstra, Luke Fynaardt and sophomore Eliot Menninga.

Westerkamp was a second team all-conference selection in 2022 after sporting a .337 batting average with a .411 on-base percentage to go with seven doubles, three triples, a pair of homers and a team-high 20 RBIs. He also had good success on the mound in limited innings with a 1-1 record, 2.52 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.

Van Arendonk was also a solid hitter last year with a .289 batting average, 18 doubles and 10 RBIs while Vander Molen is their top returning pitcher after going 3-4 with a 4.05 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings.

With some spots needing to be filled from last year’s squad, expect senior Simon Belzer and sophomores Johnson Morgan, Connor Van Zee and Grant Kelderman to jump into the lineup.

“We hope both pitching and hitting will be a strength of this team, as we have many players ready to take the next step up,” Fynaardt said. “If there is a weakness, it may be on the defensive side of things, where we'll have a new player at nearly every position. We hope it's just more of a question than a weakness.”

Pella Christian was 4-16 in Little Hawkeye Conference play last year, finishing seventh overall. They will have to navigate the difficult conference again this year with two teams ranked in the preseason top 10.

The Eagles will also have some interesting non-conference tests against the likes of Carlisle, Des Moines Christian, Roland-Story and Knoxville. The highlight in the schedule is a trip to Principal Park on May 23 for a neutral site game against Moravia, who was a substate finalist a year ago in 1A.

The first part of their season features six home games over their first 10 games. After that, they will face a tough stretch of 13 of their next 16 games on the road before closing out with their last five games at home.

Pella Christian enters the season with a new coach and several new starters with the hope of putting together their first winning season since 2019.

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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