After boasting an overall record of 46-16 last year the Cavalier baseball team sets up to hit another home run of a season.
Kent Shelley, coach, said this season, the Cavaliers will re-welcome 13 sophomores, who he says provided outstanding leadership last year.
“Heading that group is Tanner Padgett – 1st All-Conference DH, Brian Sullivan – 2nd Team All- Conference – OF and Jake Karst – C and Daonte Lowery – OF – Honorable Mention All-Conference,” Shelley said. “Sophomore, Brad Kincaid – P has a chance to be one off the top pitchers in the conference and infielder Matt Johnson should be one of the top defensive players in the league. Chaz Burgess and Ty Herrenbruck will be returning after season ending injuries from a year ago and should add strong bats in the lineup.”
Brian Sullivan, left field, expressed his thoughts toward last year’s performance and how the sense of camaraderie benefitted the team.
“Last season was the best season of my life,” Sullivan said. “I had a pretty good year personally, but what made it so special was not only the 40 + wins, but the group we did it with. A brotherhood was formed and I think that’s why we were able to win so many games. Everybody pulled for each other and wanted to do whatever it took to win.”
Shelley believed that while last season was an overall success, he felt the championship was lost not by lack of skill, but lack of available team members, as many were lost due to player injury.
“No doubt the number of injuries we had to deal with throughout the season kept us from achieving our goals,” Shelley said. “We lost five players to season-ending injuries; coupled with numerous injuries throughout the season.”
Tanner Padgett, first base, commented on his injury and his outlook on the season.
“I had a pre-existing knee injury heading into the season,” Padgett said. “Obviously the injured guys weren’t able to contribute so we might not have been as deep as we wanted but everyone we had stepped up and filled those holes.”
Brad Kincaid, pitcher, said that while there were a lot of injuries, they were ready for anything.
“We definitely were affected by the injuries talent-wise, but that didn’t stop us,” Kincaid said. “We were about as close as any sports team could be chemistry wise,” Kincaid said. “Life-long relationships were built from that team. Our mentality last year was that everyone was ready to come into the game at a moment’s notice.”
This year, they hope will be a turning point, as they focus on health and preservation of their key players.
“We need to stay healthy and work hard on the field and in the classroom each and every day to improve and maximize our abilities as student athletes,” Shelley said.
Heads high and bats at the ready, the Cavaliers step up to the plate once again in their journey to the championship and beyond.
“We want to win a conference championship, then punch our ticket to Grand Junction in the region 6 tournament down in Wichita,” Padgett said. “Once we get to Grand Junction, well, it’s baseball, anything can happen!”
The Cavaliers open their 2018 season on February 9 against Volunteer State College, and their first home game is scheduled for February 16, when they play Ellsworth Community College at 2:00 p.m.
For more information, you can visit the college’s baseball page.