Purdy back to .500 with 4-game streak

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Coach credits players for growth, leadership during streak

The Purdy baseball season got off to an agonizingly slow start.

The Eagles (4-4) dropped their first four games of the season and could have packed it in, but they didn't.

"It's always rough during any losing streak," said Joshua Hughes, Purdy coach. "As a coach, you keep encouraging the boys and you look for positive signs. We were playing a brutal schedule while figuring out who we were."

Purdy lost consecutive games to Galena, Cassville, Seneca and Lamar before righting the ship with a 4-1 upset over Marionville.

"That game was our turning point," Hughes said. "Alex Mareth pitched extremely well, and the defense backed him up with some stellar plays."

Hughes said the last four games, his starting pitching rotation -- consisting of Mareth, Brent Cornman and Robby Moody -- has been the big difference, allowing just 5 earned runs in their last four starts.

"We knew that if we were going to have success this season, we needed kids to play and perform in new positions," Hughes said. "We are a long way from perfect, but I am pleased with the efforts of my boys. I can't fault them for how hard they have been working."

During the recent streak, Purdy has rolled over College Heights, 10-0; Verona, 22-1; and Sarcoxie, 6-5.

The Eagles overcame a 5-0 hole to top the Bears, scoring a trio of runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull out the win.

Moody got the start and was roughed up for 3 runs in the first inning.

"Robby got off to a slow start but then responded," Hughes said. "He was able to hold Sarcoxie in check until our offense awoke. I was very proud of how he dug deep. We don't have quitters on this team."

The one area where Hughes sees the greatest potential for growth is his offense.

Purdy is hitting just .263 with 39 RBI, and of the Eagles' 51 base hits this season, only eight have gone for extra bases (seven doubles and a triple).

"It's something we have been addressing every day in practice," Hughes said. "We have seven guys getting their first look at varsity pitching, and I knew there would be some struggles. It helps having an assistant coach like Jason Webb to bring the kids along."

Purdy travels to Jasper on Friday, and first pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.

"Right now, we need to focus on keeping our strengths strong and improving on our weaknesses," Hughes said. "I will have the team prepared for the next game, but I want them focused on getting better."

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