Oran continues to pursue first state title; Central starts fresh after bitter finish.
For the Oran baseball team, a district title has basically guaranteed the team a trip to the state final four in recent years.
The Eagles have earned trips to the state final four in four of the past five seasons, finishing third in Class 1 last year.
Despite all of their experience at the final four, the Eagles have yet to bring home a state title. This season, with six starters back, Oran will try to end that drought.
The Eagles begin play Thursday at Bloomfield.
(Southeast Missourian file)
A balanced offense, strength up the middle and a deep pitching staff should set up the Eagles for another run. Despite losing three starters, the Eagles return a pair of all-state players and have added another through a transfer.
"We lost three good players who will definitely be hard to replace, but we feel pretty confident we have a good nucleus in place," Wood said.
Senior pitcher Chase Seyer leads the staff after earning second-team all-state honors. Seyer, a left-hander, has been the Eagles' big-game pitcher the last few years. Alex Chasteen, a sophomore, should also see an increased workload.
Along with Oran's returning pitchers, the Eagles add Chaffee transfer Steven Dooley to the rotation. Dooley, a junior, was first-team all-state last year, striking out more than 100 batters.
"We've got about six kids that throw, and probably four or five I feel confident with," Wood said.
One of Oran's strengths could be its defense up the middle. Alex Beardslee returns as one of the area's top shortstops.
"I'll put him up with any shortstop at any school," Wood said.
Second baseman Kody Campbell, all-state catcher Caleb Seyer and center fielder Cody Dirnberger are also among the area's premier players at their positions.
Oran will host its district this year, which features a similar cast of teams as in recent years. Advance, the district winner in 2005, lost several key seniors and could be down this year.
Saxony Lutheran, which won the program's first district title and fell to Oran in the quarterfinals, could be another strong Class 1 squad this year.
"We feel like if we can win a district, then get back to the final four, we can get things done," Wood said. "We just hope we have another chance to get it done."
Central begins today
In Class 4, Central hopes to bounce back from a disappointing finish to its 2006 season.
A violation of a Missouri State High School Activities Association rule regarding a winter camp cost Central a shot at a district title and possibly a run at the state final four.
Six players, including Central's top five run producers and top three pitchers, were suspended for the final two games last year due to the infraction, including a narrow 2-1 defeat in the district semifinals. The Tigers finished the season 20-6 and captured the SEMO Conference Tournament and regular-season crowns.
Central, which open the season today at Kennett, returns the core of its starters.
Two-time all-state senior Brad LaBruyere leads the way for the Tigers on the mound. LaBruyere, the reigning Southeast Missourian Player of the Year, was 11-1 last year with a 0.79 ERA and 95 strikeouts. The right-handed senior was first-team all-state as a junior. He earned second-team honors as a sophomore, going 8-2 with a 0.92 ERA.
Justin Myer, also a senior, likely will enter as Central's No. 2 hurler, and Kory Kitchen will also see time on the mound. Myer and LaBruyere were among those suspended last season.
Top position players Matt Hester, second-team all-state last year, and Blake Slattery will anchor the lineup, which also returns one of its top bats in LaBruyere.
* Head coach -- Bob Moses
* Last year -- 12-4, lost in Class 1 district finals
* Returning starters -- Rusty Hendricks, ss/p, sr.; Trenton Moses, if/p, sr.; Cameron Stevens, of, sr.; David VanGennip, of/p, so.
* Other top returning players -- Jacob Bond, of, so.; Nate Middleton, if, jr.; Adam Cato, p/of, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Matt Henson, sr.; Chris Welch, if, jr.; Garrett May, so.
* Head coach -- Brian Horrell
* Assistant coaches -- Shawn Powderly, Tim Schmidt
* Last year -- 10-15
* Returning starters -- Chris Hanback, p/ss, sr.; Josh Steger, 1b, jr.; Jerrod Steger, cf, sr.; Brad Daugherty, rf, sr.; Andy Hendrix, 3b, jr.; Michael Lee, lf, sr.; Adam Urhahn, c/p, sr.
* Other top returning players -- Alex Orr, p, sr.; Zac McDaniel, if, sr.; Adam Crowe, p, sr.
* Top newcomers -- Adam Horton, c/if, jr.; Aaron Horrell, 2b, so.; Trenton Horman, c/p/if, so.; Kent Courtney, of, sr.
* Head coach -- Gordon Walton
* Assistant coach -- John Weber
* Last year -- 3-11
* Returning starters -- Nathan Stroder, 1b/of, sr.; A.J. Horn, of/c, sr.; Cody Schrum, ss/p, jr.; Tyler Martin, 2b/p, jr.; Alex Parks, 3b/p, jr.; Aaron Criddle, 2b/of, so.
* Other top returning players -- Jason Stevens, of, jr.; Erich Aruidson, of, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Cody Naramore, c, fr.; Shelby Kight, if, fr.; Jordan White, of, fr.
* Head coach -- Jonathan Inman
* Assistant coaches -- Matt Britt, Derek Urhahn
* Last year -- 9-9
* Returning starters -- Matt Stoverink, p/if, sr.; Cody Van de Ven, if/p, jr.; Eric Fluchel, c/p/if, sr.; Wade Wiseman, if/p/c, so.; Dustin Thiele, of/c, so.; Tyler Clubb, p/of, sr.
* Other top returning players -- Jordan Jansen, of, jr.; Clayton Stoverink, 1b/p, so.; Darren VanGennip, of/if/p, so.
* Top newcomers -- Cole Wesbecker, c/if, fr.; Austin Scott, if/of, fr.; Travis Beuter, of, fr.; Ryan Davis, if/p, fr.; Robin Evensson, of, so.
* Head coach -- Jeff Graviett
* Assistant coaches -- Tim Garner, Darren Heuring
* Last year -- 18-7, fell in district finals
* Returning starters -- Jordan Buchheit, c/of, sr.; Luke Moll, of, sr.; Abe Dirnberger, cf, sr.; Chad Friend, 1b, sr.; Jacob Valleroy, c, jr.; Dylan Drury, p/3b, so.
* Other top returning players -- Brett Heischmidt, 2b, sr.; Austin Greer, p/ss, so.; Mark Himmelberg, p/3b, jr.; Blake Gaddis, 2b, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Colton Young, ss/2b, fr.; Logan Glueck, of, jr.; Aaron Tomaszewski, of, so.; Nick Ostendorf, 1b, jr.; Kyle Brugger, of, jr.
* Head coach -- Jason Niswonger
* Assistant coach -- Bobby Friese
* Last year -- 3-13
* Returning starters -- Walt Ruesler, cf, sr.; Josh Hormann, 3b, sr.; Jace Dye, p/ss, so.; Kaz Lange, of, jr.; Ethan Sachs, p/c, so.
* Other top returning players -- Adam Seabaugh, of, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Dustin Owens, of, sr.; Garrett Pohlman, 2b, sr.; Dustin Meyr, 1b, jr.
* Head coach -- Paul Sander
* Assistant coaches -- Colby Palisch, Chris Bledsoe
* Last year -- 15-6, lost in Class 1 quarterfinals
* Returning starters -- Dustin Roth, cf, sr.; Kory Mueller, c, sr.; Peter Winningham, p, sr.
* Other top returning players -- Chris Roth, if/p, so.; Ben Courtois, jr.; Ryan Winkler, 2b/of, jr.; Garrett Fritsche, ss/p, so.; Ben Skelton, 2b/of, jr.; Bryant Steffens, if/p, so.; Bret Steffens, c/p/of, so.; Max Wieser, 2b/p/of, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Andrew Brewer, fr.; Seth Stevens, fr.; Nick LeGrand, fr.; Adam Bradt, fr.
* Head coach -- Lance Amick
* Assistant coach -- Lynn Ward
* Returning starters -- Blake Dirnberger, cf; Rynn Eskew, lf; Curtis Hall, 1b; Ryan Modglin, p/rf; Shae Simmons, ss; Cody Carlyle, c; Cody Page, 3b
* Other top returning players -- Josh Henson, 2b; Jaris Hye, c
* Top newcomers -- Clayton Hall; Jacob Campbell; Skylar Cobb; Tyler Morrison; Craig Arnzen; Caleb Gray
* Head coach -- Paul Sauer
* Assistant coach -- Chad Unterriener, Gabe Hotop
* Last year -- 5-18
* Returning starters -- Greg Finger, p/ss, sr.; Darin Yamnitz, p, so.; Justin L'Hote, p/cf, so.
* Coach's Outlook -- We are young and are looking to improve. Hopefully our young kids stay up and perform.
* Head coach -- Jason Crane
* Last year -- 6-13
* Returning starters -- Tim Abner, ss, jr.; Jacob Gillis, c, sr.; Jeremy Hutson, cf, sr.; Austin Lincoln, dh, jr.; Dale Long, 1b, jr.; Willie Piatt, p, sr.; Kyle Reynolds, 3b, so.; Ben Rhodes, lf, jr.; Andrew Wagner, p/of, sr.
* Other top returning players -- Michael Dowd, 2b, sr.; CJ Kern, of, jr.; Jeremy Gray, jr.
* Top newcomers -- Andrew Minson, p, fr.; Jesse Long, p, fr.; Cole Benfield, lf, fr.; Jordan King, c/if, jr.; Justin Jones, of/p, fr.
* Head coach -- Dywght Ford
* Last year -- 1-10
* Returning starters -- Nick Smith, p/if, so.; Josh Freeman, of/c, so.; Nick Montgomery, if/c, jr.; Talon Simpson, if, jr.