Young ‘Cats gaining experience
Cassville baseball team has 28 out this season
The Cassville baseball team has strong numbers this season with 28 on the roster, but the Wildcats are having to overcome a lack of experience on the varsity level.
Ron Hudson, Cassville baseball coach, said the team, which did not play last season due to COVID-19, was senior-heavy in 2020, meaning most varsity players have not seen live action since playing on the junior varsity and C team as freshmen.
“The guys are really excited, but they are very inexperienced,” Hudson said. “They are all good kids and hard workers, and they all want to be out there and are enjoying playing the game.
“Having 28 on the team is nice because it gives us the varsity, JV and C teams. So, where we have some fringe varsity-JV players or fringe JV-C team guys, they will all get more playing opportunities.”
Cassville has a pair of returning seniors in Zach Acheson, a four-year varsity starter who has signed to play baseball at North Arkansas Community College, and Layne Mitchell. Both play first base and pitch for Cassville.
“Zach is our best player and has been playing varsity since his freshman year,” Hudson said. “He’s the only one we have with real varsity experience. We have a lot of juniors, but their last time playing was on JV and the C team. Layne was a JV guy, and him and a few others have a sprinkle of varsity time here and there. Layne and Zach are both excellent teammates and leaders on and off the field.”
With experience at a premium, the Wildcats have been working largely on fundamentals.
“We are developing our baseball skills, like working on being more accurate with all our throws, pitching, infield and outfield to infield,” Hudson said. “We’re also working on doing a better job catching and putting the ball into play when we are at the plate.”
Hudson said the team’s goals for the season also rely on getting time on the field and improving as the season goes along.
“If we continue to improve like we did from the jamboree to the first two games, by games three and four and five, six and seven, we should be ok,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of game situations already happen that we have never seen before and that are hard to create in practice. We have to get better each day, and I know it’s a coaching cliche, but for us, it’s the honest truth.
“We have to compete day in and day out, and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, we can beat some teams we shouldn’t.”
Cassville opened the regular season last week with a loss to Buffalo, 6-5, in eight innings. The Wildcats were leading 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, but could not close out the win. Buffalo tied the game and added the winning run in the extra inning.
In that contest, Acheson pitched 4 innings, gave up 1 earned run and struck out 8. Landon White had two hits, Mitchell knocked 2 RBI, Eric Fuchs got 2 hits and Corey Thomas stole 2 bases.
“A key in that game was that we left 11 runners on base,” Hudson said. “We also had too many errors.”
Cassville then lost 15-0 in four innings to a stout Aurora squad. Acheson hit a double in that contest, and Cassville threw a handful of pitchers in the game to release some nerves about varsity pitching.
“For those guys, the difference from the jamboree to that game was dramatic,” Hudson said. “Aurora is a great time and hits the ball well.”
The Wildcats have a pair of doubleheaders this week. On Tuesday, they played Flippin (Ark.) and Seneca, with results not available as of presstime. Today (Wednesday), they face Galena at 4:45 p.m. and Gravette (Ark.) at 7 p.m.