Rams' offense to rely more on small ball

Thursday, March 26, 2009
FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com
Scott City's Josh Henson bunts to advance a runner during a game last season.

SCOTT CITY -- The Scott City offense lost just two players from its lineup that pounded out 23 runs in the final four on its way to winning the Class 2 state title last spring.

The problem is the two players -- Ryan Modglin and Cody Carlyle -- were the main power sources in the middle of the order, combining for 16 homers and 75 RBIs through districts.

Both hitters also had season batting averages of more than .580.

"We lost some good hitters, but we've got some good hitters coming back," Scott City coach Lance Amick said. "Last year, we based a lot around the power and the long ball. This year we've got some big, strong kids coming back, but we might not be a team that hits 27, 28 home runs or whatever it was as a team. We've got some kids back with some speed and kids who can handle the bat."

The Rams' offense looked strong in its first game against Jackson on Monday. It banged out eight runs on 11 hits, five of which were extra-base hits, including one home run by leadoff hitter Shae Simmons.

"I think a bunch of us are just line-drive hitters, and I think we're going to be getting on base," Austin Raines said.

Of the seven starters who return, four of them batted for more than a .300 average and three of those four batted more than .350 through district action last spring.

"We're not going to have the same power in the middle of the lineup as we did last year," Clayton Hall said. "But I think we're going to have to find power in other places. And everybody is going to have to contribute in the lineup."

Some players said that they look to Jaris Hye, who will take over at catcher for Carlyle, to produce some power.

Hye saw limited action last year, but said he hit four home runs while playing designated hitter his sophomore year.

"I think we're still going to have some power," Josh Henson said. "Cody [Page] and Jake [Campbell] can hit pretty good. Clayton is a pretty good hitter, too, and Shae has got some power."

Hye said that not only did his team lose power, but also clutch hitting. Carlyle was a clutch hitter during Scott City's title run. He hit a game-winning grand slam against Portageville in sectionals and a two-out, game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning against Clearwater in the quarterfinals.

Amick stresses the importance of bunting and playing small ball, something the Rams might focus on a little more this year.

"When we went over to Springfield last year, some of the guys who interviewed me from the area over there, they had never seen a team that bunted or squeezed [as much]," Amick said. "We squeezed on back-to-back plays in that first game. And you would have thought that I did something that was unprecedented because apparently over at that area at state that was something they hadn't seen often. That's something that we work on daily. We bunt. That's a big part of the game."

No. 1 ranking

The Rams were ranked No. 1 in the Class 2 preseason poll.

"No pressure there, is there?" Page said, smirking. "No. Right now, rankings don't mean anything. We just really need to go out there and prove ourselves."

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