Wildcats excited for diamond season

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Cassville moves past COVID year, sets high expectations

A full season canceled by COVID in 2020 left the 2021 Cassville baseball team without much experience and struggling to catch up — but that’s not the case in 2022.

Following a 10-18 campaign, the first with double digit wins since 2016, Cassville returns eight starters and lost only two lettermen, Zac Acheson and Lane Mitchell. Acheson had 39 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.17. He also provided three homeruns, 31 hits and 21 RBI.

“Last year was a growth year for us,” said Ron Howard, Cassville baseball coach. “Due to losing the 2020-2021 season, we had a team full of players who hadn’t played since freshman ball in 2019-2020. We finished last in our conference and had a number of games where we just weren’t competitive.

“There were some bright spots, as we had double digit wins for the first time since the 2015-2016 season. We made a lot of progress from our first game to our last game, and the guys did a good job making themselves available during the summer and getting more time on the field. We will miss the leadership of Zac and his production on the field, and Lane was a great teammate and good hitter who will be missed, but we have a number of players who I feel are ready to really step up and have good seasons. I think the players are excited about the season and I am excited for them.”

Leading returners on the mound will be junior Isaac Hadlow, an All-Conference infielder last year. He was 6-3 last season with a 1.95 ERA and .342 batting average, providing 25 hits 19 RBI and a pair of homers.

“Isaac is one of our top returning players,” Hudson said. “He will be one of our top pitchers, infielders, and hitters. We need for him to have a good year.”

Seven seniors will lead the squad this season: Tim Hudson, Corey Thomas, Cutter Hicks, Landon White, Ethan Fuchs, Devin Bailey and Eli Leach.

“Tim, [an All-Conference outfielder] has the potential to be very productive as a hitter,” Hudson said. “For us to be successful this year, we need him to step up and have a good year hitting. Corey will heavily counted on to get on base and create havoc for the defense. He will be one of our starting pitchers and we anticipate him having a very good season. Cutter was injured at the beginning of last season and took some time to get going full steam. We need him to have a good year catching, and he will also be one of our top pitchers.

“Landon caught last year and did a good job. He will do some catching again this year, but will also play more in the field. We need him to have a good year at the plate. Ethan is a very hard working young man. If we are going to be successful, we need him to get on base and use his speed to create opportunities for guys to hit him in. Devin has come a long ways as a baseball player. We need him to have a good year on the mound, and he might throw in more games than any of our pitchers this year. He will also play in the outfield. Eli is a hard worker who will possibly play every position on the field this year, except catcher.”

Rounding out the returners are juniors Keaton Shellenberger and Tylar Burnette.

“Keaton is a young man who just keeps getting bigger, stronger and better,” Hudson said. “He will play first base and will see lots of time on the mound. Tyler is another guy who could see time at almost every position on the field. He is a good hitter, and we will need to find ABs for him.”

Three newcomers will also hope to make an impact in sophomores Danny Roper and Ethan Bohmke, as well as freshman Evan Butler.

“Danny is very athletic and hard working,” Hudson said. “He could see innings catching or at any of the outfield spots this year. Ethan is a young man who is starting to catch up with his physical growth. He does and good job in the infield and will likely see time on the mound this year. Evan is a very talented baseball player. He has played at some of the highest level of summer baseball. We are excited to see how he fits in on the mound and in the infield.”

With who is returning, Hudson said the excitement for this season is high.

“I am very excited about this season,” Hudson said. We only lost two seniors, so we have a lot of guys returning who played a lot of baseball last year. For us to improve from last year, we have to do a much better job of limiting walks, errors and extra bases. We also need to limit our strikeouts and put the ball in play more, putting pressure on the other defense. We did these things over the summer and saw a lot of success.

“We have the ability, but just have to take it from the practice field and put it into games. We need to control what we can control and not be concerned with the other team. The Big 8 conference is an excellent baseball conference so we have our work cut out for us. We need to go out and play and get better. I have faith in the young men that we have and I am excited to get the season going with them.”

Cassville’s season began last week with the 16th Annual Cassville Classic. The next contest will be on March 28 at Purdy.

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