Their offense went into a collective slump during the recent National Baseball Congress Mid-South Regional, but the Craftsman Union Capahas are confident their bats will come around at the NBC World Series.
The Capahas, who face the Austin (Texas) Gold Sox at 1 p.m. Monday in a first-round game of the 68th annual tournament in Wichita, Kan., had just 24 hits in four games as they finished second in the regional.
But some of the Capahas' veteran players think that will change in Wichita.
"We've hit the ball good most of the year, but as a group, we just didn't hit well in the regional," catcher Tristen McDonald said before he and his teammates took batting practice Thursday at Capaha Field. "But we've got the talent and I know we can do it again."
The Capahas carried a .308 team batting average into the regional, so the potential is there for an offensive resurgence. They'll have another chance to break out of the slump Saturday in the final game of the regular season at Valmeyer, Ill.
"Hitting is such a streaky thing," third baseman Denver Stuckey said. "Hits come and go, like the weather. I think we'll pick it back up."
Players are required to hit with wood bats at the NBC World Series and the regional was also held under those rules, which might help explain some of the Capahas' recent offensive woes. Balls can consistently be hit harder and generally travel much farther with aluminum -- which college teams use -- rather than wood.
But most of the Capahas have used wood the majority of the summer so they say it shouldn't be a problem, although some admitted that wood might affect them psychologically.
"The ball doesn't travel as far," McDonald said. "It kind of separates the men from the boys."
Said shortstop Zach Borowiak, who along with McDonald and Stuckey was one of Southeast Missouri State University's top players this year, "I think mentally is where you get into problems with wood, thinking you have to do too much. You just have to hit it square and you'll be fine.
"We're confident we'll get good pitching and defense like we have all year and we'll start swinging the bats. If we do, then we think we can do really well out there."
In addition to Craftsman Union, their primary sponsor the past two years, the Capahas have received financial support for their trip to Wichita from the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce and the Southeast Missourian newspaper, who split the cost of the team's $1,000 tournament entry fee.
"It costs a lot of money to run the team all year and it costs a lot more money to go to Wichita, with the gas, motels, meals and entry fee," Capahas manager Jess Bolen said. "We appreciate everybody's support."
Wood league discussed
Bolen said he hopes to start a wood bat league next year that could feature as many as five or six teams, including the Capahas, the Cape Girardeau Riverdogs, Saline County (Ill.), the Southern Illinois Merchants and Tradewater (Ky.).
If the league forms, all the teams would play each other several times during the season and the champion would earn an NBC World Series berth.
"All the teams seem to be pretty interested and it could be a pretty good league," Bolen said. "Hopefully it's going to happen."
Broshuis in Wichita
Former Advance High School star Garrett Broshuis will participate in the NBC World Series as a member of the Liberal (Kan.) Bee Jays, who play their first-round game Tuesday.
Broshuis, a right-hander, is one of the Bee Jays' top pitchers after a solid redshirt freshman season at the University of Missouri in which he was a member of the Tigers' starting rotation.