Wildcats baseball off to hot start

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Leigh Cox snares a throw as Purdy's Adam Humphrey scurries back to third base. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville encouraged by tourney crown, hungry for more

After a season-opening loss, the Cassville baseball team has ripped off four consecutive victories, including three last week to take the Cassville Invitational tournament crown.

The Wildcats opened tourney play by routing Purdy, 18-4. Cassville then defeated Seneca, 10-5, and downed Galena, 14-6, to claim the tournament title.

Cassville's Matt Popanz blocks a ball at the plate on a pitch in the dirt for the Wildcats during varsity action last week. Chuck Nickle Special to the Cassville Democrat

For Wildcat Coach Kyle Wood, the season's start is an added bonus for the team's confidence.

"When you are able to get some victories to help re-enforce your coaching, that is huge," Wood said. "Our boys are swinging the bat well. We scored 42 runs in three games last week. That is huge for our guys."

While Wood is excited for the hot start to the season, he also has tempered his excitement with the fact that the Wildcats have several tough games in front of them.

"I know and the boys know that the season is still young," Wood said. "This week we play Republic, and we'll see how we do against a state-ranked squad."

The Wildcats' success this season has hinged upon the growth of a large junior class, a group that Wood thinks could be special.

"You can see their maturation on the field and at the plate," Wood said. "The great thing for me as a coach is you explain to them what you want done, and they put it in the work to do it."

Wood felt four players in particular have has great seasons already in Noah Hadlow, Alex Vanderpool, Alex Dyer and Leigh Cox.

"Noah is hitting .456 and is starting to display the power hitting I thought he was capable of," Wood said. "He hit a home run last week and has settled into our lineup as a big bat."

Vanderpool is a player Wood said he has seen grow the most this season.

"Alex looks more comfortable on the mound than last season," Wood said. "He is hitting .500 and is becoming a solid baseball player."

Dyer has locked up the Wildcats' closer role and is hitting close to .400

as the team's leadoff hitter. Wood said the he could not ask any more from him.

Cox has been a journeyman for the Wildcats this season, spending time at first base, third base, pitching, catching and short stop.

"I'm not sure I have not done him any favors by moving him around," Wood said. "However, he is so athletic and versatile that he can play all of those positions when the need arises."

This week, Wood said he was looking for more overall growth that centering on a specific issue.

"We are still early in the season," Wood said. "Right now it is still about overall improvement. Later, we will work on individual items."

Cassville hosts Billings on Thursday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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