Zachary baseball coach Jesse Cassard is excited about every baseball season. But heading into the 2015 season, he is particularly enthusiastic to see his squad play ball.

A big reason for his optimism is the return of seven starters from last year’s squad, including four who played in the state championship game as sophomores.

“We are very optimistic about 2015,” Cassard said.

Last year, Zachary was seeded 15th in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class 5A baseball playoffs and lost to second-seeded Brother Martin in the regional round and finished with a 22-13 record. The year before, the Broncos were state runners-up, losing to Catholic High in the championship game 3-2. They were semifinalists in 2011 after winning Class 4A state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“Our strengths are starting pitching, infield experience and togetherness. I don’t think we have any major weakness,” Cassard said of his 2015 squad.

The Broncos return five first-team all-district players and one all-state player. The pitching rotation is formidable with veteran pitchers Cory Musselman and Micah McHugh along with fellow starters Zach Moore and Robert Burke.

Musselman has signed a letter of intent with Northwestern State, and McHugh signed with Ole Miss. This year’s closer is Brennan Booth, who is being recruited by several college teams.

The lineup features a solid veteran squad. Junior P.J. Cannon, who was first-team all-state last year, leads the way along with McHugh and Gabe Hannum, who have been starting since they were freshmen.

Also pacing the Bronco attack are Evan Pace, a Southeastern Louisiana University signee, and Bo Myers, who both have started since they were sophomores. Hannum and Myers have signed to play collegiately with LSU-Eunice.

“We feel as though this could be our best offense since 2007, which hit .374 as a team,” Cassard said. “Power is a seldom-used term this day and age with the BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) bat, but we’ve trained this off-season and changed our offensive approach to a power-type game. This team is more experienced, more physical and more well-rounded than in 2014.”

Zachary will be tested early with an extremely tough schedule the first four weeks of the season. They travel to Lake Charles and play two of the top teams in Louisiana in Barbe and Sam Houston. They also travel to New Orleans to play Jesuit, Holy Cross, Destrehan, as well as Hahnville.

“Denham Springs and Live Oak are returning plenty of players just like us. Live Oak played for the state title last year, and Denham is always competitive,” Cassard said of the District 4-5A race.

Cassard’s looking forward with great anticipation.

“This team has the components to be special, meaning competing for championships,” Cassard said. “The senior group has played together since they were in coach’s pitch. I love this group of players and can’t wait to get started on our journey.”

Cassard said the Broncos will have a fundraiser on March 15 to support former player Cory Lentini, who was involved in an accident in November 2009, suffering a traumatic brain injury. The fundraiser will help his family pay for expenses related to his upcoming treatments.

Details about the fund-raiser will appear in this column in the near future.

For information about how you can help the Lentini family, contact Cassard at (225) 658-7332.

Send sports news, photos and stats to Howard Arceneaux at harceneaux@theadvocate.com.