The Cassville Wildcats opened the Spring baseball season at the McDonald's Bulldog Classic in Springdale, Ark., over the weekend, and came away from the tournament with a 1-2 record against a trio of much larger schools. The Wildcats lost to West Memphis in a 6-inning game, 5-4; defeated the host Springdale team, 8-3; and lost to Carthage, 8-6.
"We had a lot of positives this weekend," said Cassville coach Kyle Wood. "All of our pitchers threw strikes and gave us a chance to win every game we played. I feel like our pitchers will only get better as the year goes on.
"We know what to expect with John Cavness and Ben Makela, but Josh Sexton, Joey McCracken, and Marcus Weatherman all saw their first significant varsity time on the mound and all welcomed the challenge," said Wood. "We have two or three guys who haven't thrown yet that will help us a lot and are just waiting for their chance."
Cavness pitched the entire game against West Memphis, striking out 10 while allowing nine hits. Three errors cost the Wildcats dearly in the one-run game. Makela pitched all seven innings against the Springdale Bulldogs, striking out eight and allowing only two hits and two earned runs in the Cassville victory.
In the loss to Carthage, Sexton started and pitched four innings. McCracken came on in relief and lasted into the seventh inning, and then Weatherman took the hill for the final two outs.
"Ricky Nichols led in hitting with eight hits over the weekend and five RBI's. Josh Sexton, Ben Makela, Kreg Myers and Ty Craig also had good weekends at the plate," said Wood. "Trey Rose did a really nice job behind the plate."
Eight different Cassville batters hit safely in the win over Springdale.
Coach Wood was pleased with his team's effort, but noted some areas needing improvement.
"We have to improve on two things to become a very solid baseball team," he said. "Team defense is one. The errors this weekend cost us both of the games we lost. The other is our two-strike approach.
"We had way too many strikeouts," said Wood. "We must do a better job with two strikes and put the ball in play. I hope that both are just early game issues."