Purdy continues play in Cassville tourney
Eagles search for right mix of leadership, growth
Moments after an 8-3 season-opening loss to Galena (Kan.) in the Cassville Classic, Purdy Coach Joshua Hughes gathered with his team for a few words.
At the conclusion of his speech, he asked his five juniors and seniors to stick around for a minute.
"I told them that I needed their help," Hughes said. "I need them to be a third coach and help these younger guys grow. If we are going to be successful, we need them to step up."
The Eagles have a tradition of having solid baseball teams, winning seven of the last eight conference crowns and three of the last four district titles.
With a young team this year, growing pains are to be expected.
"At the start of the season, we knew that we had to do more for our team," said Reese Veith, senior second baseman. "I can help our team defensively by making sure guys know what to do. We [seniors] have to do what we can to make this team better."
The Eagles' starting lineup at Cassville featured three outfielders who saw their first varsity starts, and four other players breaking in new positions.
"I am looking for growth each and every time we take the field," Hughes said. "I felt we battled against Galena, and I was encouraged."
Against Galena, the Eagles fell behind 2-0 after two innings, then scored twice in the third to knot the score. But Purdy couldn't string together any more hits, and Galena was able to pull away.
"We had some chances to score more runs in the first two innings," Hughes said. "We just needed that extra hit -- the big hit. I feel that is where these upperclassmen have to step up. Galena didn't hit the ball hard, their hits just fell in the right spots."
Hughes' message resonated with his players.
"I thought we did some things well in the game," said Alex Mareth, senior pitcher. "The cold weather caused us to lose a little focus. I feel that if we start hitting the ball, we can string together some wins."
Purdy hosts Diamond on Thursday. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.