Purdy sets high expectations

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Mason Schallert fields a ground ball at first during varsity action Saturday for Purdy. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Eagles poised for huge season on the diamond

When Joshua Hughes, Purdy baseball coach, smiles while talking about his baseball team, fans know that he has high expectations.

On Saturday, Purdy went 1-1 with a 11-9 loss to Monett and a 19-0 win over Spokane, and the coach was not pleased.

Hunter Cook tags out a Monett base runner during action at Purdy on Saturday. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

“I was talking with [Monett Coach] Michael Calhoun before our game and we both felt that defense would be our strong suit and it would be a low-scoring affair,” Hughes said. “Then, we go out and score 28 runs. We had some errors against Monett and our defense wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Normally, your defense is way ahead of your offense.”

Nobody in the area has higher expectations and demands more from their squad than Hughes. The skipper is fond of saying that he does not want to draw attention to his squad. He would rather fly under the radar to keep teams guessing about the talent he has. Hughes is also fond of under-promising and over-delivering with the product on the field.

His Eagles fell just short of claiming a district title last year against McAuley Catholic, as they let a late lead slip away. This year, the team returns seven starters from a 14-8 squad and adds a group of talented freshmen.

Gone from the roster due to graduation are two seniors in Ricky Aldaba and James Hughlett.

The duo combined to win five games last year and drove in 30 runs.

“We have a huge hole to fill with the loss of James and Ricky to graduation,” Hughes said. “They were two key pitchers and defenders for us.”

Returning for the Eagles are: Hunter Cook, Adam Humphrey and Jose Sanchez, seniors; Mason Schallert, Ky Propps and Carl Hughlett, juniors; and Andrew Martinez, sophomore.

Cook was 3-1 as a starter with 1 save and a 2.65 ERA. He hit .343 with 14 RBI.

“Hunter has been our everyday shortstop since he was a freshmen,” Hughes said. “He has impressed us over the past two seasons and last fall. We look for a huge senior year. His presence on the mound as a Junior has given us high hopes for his senior campaign.”

Humphrey went 6-2 as a starter and collected 1 save. He had a 3.32 ERA and hit .375 with 19 RBI.

“Adam has been a starter for all four years,” Hughes said. “He projects to be a middle-of-the-order bat and our workhorse on the mound. We have huge expectations out of Adam.”

Sanchez hit a healthy .443 with 27 hits and 21 RBI.

“Jose plays everywhere and will continue to log innings in almost all positions,” Hughes said. “He was a huge bat for us his junior season and even tasted some lead off this fall. I look for him to move into a middle-of-the-order guy this spring. We expect another big year out of Jose.”

Schallert slugged .323 with 10 RBI as a sophomore.

“Mason is a big potential bat for us and could have a huge junior season,” Hughes said. “He will play first but will be given the opportunity to pitch for us in some big innings. We look forward to seeing his progression.”

Propps collected 20 hits and 15 RBI while hitting .323 last season.

“Ky will be holding down the middle of the diamond,” Hughes said. “Depending on who’s pitching and who we are playing, he will see innings at short, second and centerfield. He will also be on the mound for us as a starter. If Ky has a huge year at the plate, we could score a bunch of runs and be tough to beat.”

Hughlett scattered 27 hits and swiped 10 bases while hitting .355.

“Carl is our backbone behind the plate,” Hughes said. “He won the position about half way through last spring and hasn’t looked back. His leadership skills will only get better and we need him to lead us on the field. He will also see some innings on the mound out of relief and some spot starts.”

Martinez had a monster freshman campaign hitting .472 with 34 hits and 27 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

“Andrew had one of the better freshman campaigns around.” Hughes said. “He quickly moved into the middle of our order and produced. He will continue to be that middle-order guy and as he progresses his defense, he will be fun to watch.”

Also joining the team this year are: Zane Brown and Ezequiel Gaucin, sophomores; Clay Henderson, Jake Brown, Osiel Aldava, Rylee Boyd and Andres Aldaba, freshmen.

“This year will be fun as a coach,” Hughes said. “We will actually have battles in almost every position at every practice. As a coach, that is fun to have. We will be deep and very competitive. Our junior varsity lost one game this fall, and we ended our varsity season with a 19-3 record. We have to learn to overcome the mental side of the game and out work our opponents at practice every day. If we do that, we could have success.”

Purdy hosts East Newton on Thursday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.

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