Trojans ready to open diamond season Thursday
Team feels ready for rigors of challenging season
Graduating five seniors and four starters from a season ago, Kenny Ferguson, Southwest baseball coach was not sure how his squad would respond.
Ferguson said the issues were easy to spot, but the solutions were not as easy to implement.
“We finished 8-10 last year and lost in the first round of districts to McAuley Catholic, 8-1,” Ferguson said. “We were very competitive in all of our games, but were very inconsistent. Our biggest problem was we swung and missed too much. We really had trouble scoring multiple runs per inning because of our inconsistency at the plate.”
Southwest lost Paton Clay, Landon Wright, Levi Moore, Steven Skinkis and Rayven Crowe to graduation.
Clay was 6-3 as a starter with 1 save and a 2.87 ERA. In total the group accounted for 55 hits and 40 RBI.
Returning for the Trojans are: Jay Fields, Tanner Leonhardt, Tanner Hackett, Vinny Suchowski and Caid Harrison, seniors; Jarrett Pike and Mason Owens, juniors and Logan Deason, sophomore.
Fields was 1-6 as a starter with a 3.65 ERS. He hit .375 at the plate with 8 RBI.
“Jay is our ace on the mound and our No. 3 hole hitter,” Ferguson said. “Jay is ate up with baseball and is more of a throw-back player. You can count on his uniform being the dirtiest on the field. He plays short stop when not pitching. He was All-Conference and All-District last year.”
Leonhardt hit .370 with 17 RBI as a junior.
“Tanner is our center fielder, clean-up hitter, and possible closer this spring,” Ferguson said. “He has some pop in his bat and had a very good fall season. If he has the same type of season this spring he has a good chance of playing on the next level.”
Hackett hit .185 with 5 RBI.
“Tanner is our No. 2 hole hitter, left fielder, and relief pitcher,” Ferguson said. “He is a contact hitter who had his best season at the plate this fall. I expect a lot from Tanner this fall.”
Suchwoski struggled at the plate last year and hit .132 with 3 RBI.
“Vinny has been our catcher the last couple of years,” Ferguson said. “He will be moving to second base to try and help shore up our infield defense. Vinny is very quiet, but very steady. He needs more consistency at the plate.”
Harrison saw time on the mound last year, a role the Trojan would like him to explore again this year.
“Caid had a down season last spring and did not play in the fall,” Ferguson said. “He is back and we really need him to step up this spring. He has the ability to be our No. 2 on the mound and has some pop at the plate as well.”
Pike hit .273 and stole a pair of bases.
“Jarrett is our leadoff hitter, No. 2 pitcher, and a very good shortstop,” Ferguson said. “He is one of our best players who can play anywhere on the field. He plays the game the right way with a lot of intensity. He is an excellent base runner.”
Owens was a .250 hitter a season ago.
“Mason is our right fielder and will pitch some,” Ferguson said. “Mason has good pop at the plate and lot of potential. He just needs to cut back on the swing and miss. He could be a real key for us.”
Deason went 1-2 as a starter with a 5.38 ERA. He hit .280 as a freshman.
“Logan is our No. 3 pitcher but has the arm to be a No. 1 on the mound,” Ferguson said. “He just needs to cut back on his pitch counts. Great defender at third and has a good bat. I expect Logan to step up this year and take on a leadership role.”
Southwest will add a crop of newcomers, with several of them pushing for varsity time including: Eli Atkinson, junior; Timothy DeShields, sophomore; Austin Pippin, Colten Hignite and Joey Patterson, freshmen.
“We finished the fall season 10-6, which was solid considering the starters we were replacing,” Ferguson said. “Our defense was solid and we really cut back on our swing and miss ratio from last spring. If our pitching will improve, we could really make some noise this spring.
Ultimately, to win conference, we must beat a very good Purdy team. To win districts we will have to go through Pierce City and Purdy.”
Southwest travels to Liberal on Thursday.