Bulldogs aim for district hardware

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
Right fielder Brandon Vue hurls a ball from the outfield to second baseman Kollin Garner during the Bulldogs’ loss to Verona on March 30. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Wheaton relies on pitching in early go

The Wheaton baseball team has started the season out a little slow, but Coach Tucker Dermott believes his Bulldogs will be in shape by the end of the season to compete for a district championship.

Dermott said Wheaton (2-4) worked some in the fall, and the process of building a winning mindset is constant.

Kelton Park tosses a pitch during the Bulldogs’ loss to Verona on March 30. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

“We are working on changing our mentality from just being happy to be playing to going out there to win,” he said. “We have been in every game so far and lost some close ones. We just need to get over that little hump.”

Dermott said a pleasant surprise this season has been the team’s pitchers, who have kept the Bulldogs in close contests.

“We have three guys we rely on, and they are all upperclassmen who are getting the job done,” he said. “They are doing a great job keeping us in close games. In the fall, our offense was good and kept us in games, and now in the spring, it’s our pitching doing that. Out bats are a little slow, but if we can get all three aspects of the game going — pitching, defense and hitting — we will be in a good spot.”

Senior Brody Prewitt, junior Kelton Park and senior Ty Hudson are the Bulldogs’ leaders on the mound.

“Brody’s control has been good and he has been able to work deep into games for us,” Dermott said. “Kelton is one of our best pitchers. He doesn’t throw the hardest, but he does a good job mixing up pitches and keeping hitters off-balance. Ty has started some and come on in relief, and he has pitched a ton lately. He throws a lot of strikes and is a guy we can always call on no matter the time in the game.”

Dermott said the leadership from his senior class of five has also been impressive.

“We have guys like our catcher, Jack Mitchell, who handles the staff and is a big part of why the pitchers have done so well,” Dermott said. “They all really trust him. Jackson Thompson is another senior that we have been throwing anywhere, from first base to third and even a little catching. He does a great job settling down our defense because he plays in all those spots.

“He is very vocal, probably the loudest kid out there, and that keeps up our energy during the game. He also hypes up his teammates, which helps with morale and keeping things upbeat.”

Dermott said this season, he hopes his seniors can bring Wheaton back to being district champions, which the bulldogs have not been able to accomplish in about a decade.

“Our goal is to win the district,” he said. “We have not done that in a long time, since 2011 or 2012, and this is such a senior-heavy group that I want that opportunity for them. District and conference — that is what they want to play for.

“It hasn’t started exactly the way we want it to, but we’ve kept games close and are in the mix with all the local teams in our area.”

Wheaton’s last contest was a 3-1 loss to Verona at home on March 30. In the first inning, Wheaton got its offense started when an error scored one run for the Bulldogs.

Park started the game on the mound and went five innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out 8 and walking one.

Ty Hudson, Devin Bateman, Mitchell, and Prewitt each managed one hit.

The Bulldogs played at Cassville on Tuesday, with results not available as of presstime. They hit the road again Thursday to face McAuley Catholic at 4:30 p.m.

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