Kennett baseball team hopes experience yields wins
Mother Nature hasn’t fully cooperated this spring but Kennett Indians baseball coach Aaron New remains optimistic his squad is ready to open the season.
“We got off to a slow start the first week of practice with six or seven inches of rain,” New said. “But most of the time we’ve been able to prepare. When we haven’t been able to practice on the infield we’ve been able to go on the outfield. We’ve had enough days to make sure we are ready to start the season and the kids are excited and ready to go. They are getting tired of practicing.”
The Indians will face no cupcake in its road opener.
Kennett opens its season Friday against the Jonesboro, Arkansas, Hurricanes. Jonesboro is coming off a 29-4 campaign last season and is off to a 5-2 start this spring. Kennett beat Jonesboro 6-5 last season.
“They’ve got a really good club,” New said. “They finished second in the state last year and are bringing back six to eight kids. They’ve got a pitcher who has signed with the University of Arkansas and they are off to a really good start this season. We play them every year and we are familiar with each other. But it’s our first game of the year and they have been playing for about three weeks, so we’ve really got our work cut out for us Friday. But playing these types of teams is what we need to do to prepare ourselves for the end of May.”
The Kennett roster includes seniors Patrick Maddox, Ty Ellis, Zane Wallace and Brenton Tidd; juniors Luke Lockhert, Parker McClain, Zack Lewis and Andrew Spence; sophomores Carter Maddox, Jackson Henfling, Marshall Brown, Kaleb Crafton and Seth Tice; and freshmen Bodey Ellis, Kobe Gates, Owen Ross, Payton Henley and Kiante Dupree.
“Numbers are a little bit down for us, but that’s just what we’ve got to go with,” New said. “We’ve got a good mix of older kids and younger kids that have played a lot of baseball, so we think at the varsity level we still should have a pretty experienced team.
“We’ve got seven or eight players that played a role at times last season,” New added. “We’ve got some upperclassmen who have played a lot of baseball at the varsity level in the SEMO Conference and we think we should have a competitive club again this season.”
New expects Maddox, Wallace, Tidd and Ty Ellis to anchor the offense. All four seniors have already signed to play at the collegiate level. Wallace and Tidd are slated to play baseball at Three Rivers College, Ellis is headed to play baseball at Rend Lake College and Maddox plans to play football at Southeast Missouri State University.
“Our four seniors all had really good offensive years last year and we are hoping they can continue that this season,” New said.
New also expects contributions from a few incoming players.
“Sophomore Jackson Henfling moved in from Piggott and played well for us over the summer and has looked pretty good this spring,” New said. “We’ve also got a couple other freshmen coming in who have played a lot of baseball that may be ready to play at the varsity level soon. I’m not sure they are ready to go right off the bat, but we’ve got some talented incoming players.”
New said it remains unclear who will anchor the pitching rotation at this point.
“That’s where we are still trying to fine-tune things,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are solid pitchers, but we are looking for that one guy that can step up. Zane Wallace and Ty Ellis have pitched a lot for us in the past. We will also get Andrew Spence back off of an injury from last season. We’ve also got Luke Lockhert and Parker McClain who have pitched well for us in the past. There are also a handful of freshmen and a few sophomores that might get a little bit of varsity time on the mound.”
Kennett is slated to compete in Class 4, District 1 with host Sikeston, New Madrid County Central, Dexter, Fredericktown, Notre Dame (Cape Girardeau), and Perryville at the end of the season.
Defending district champion Sikeston is ranked No. 6 in Class 4 in the preseason state baseball rankings.
“Notre Dame and Sikeston will both be loaded,” New said. “I know Sikeston is bringing a lot of guys back after being an inning or two away from getting to the final four last year. Notre Dame also has quite a bit of pitching coming back. Dexter and the rest of us are kind of battling it out and hoping we can get right at the right time.”
Kennett High School Baseball Schedule
|3/17||Cape Central||JV||Away||11 a.m.|
|3/20||Poplar Bluff||JV/Varsity||Away||4:30 p.m.|
|3/23||North County||Varsity||Home||6 p.m.|
|3/27||Malden||JV Varsity||Home||4 p.m.|
|4/4||Jackson||JV (DH)||Away||4 p.m.|
|4/12||Dyer County||JV/Varsity||Away||4:30 p.m.|
|4/13||Greene County||JV/Varsity||Home||4:30 p.m.|
|4/17||Notre Dame||JVVarsity||Home||4 p.m|
|4/21||Cape Central||Varsity||Cape Central||11 a.m.|
|4/21||Windsor||Varsity||Cape Central||1:30 p.m.|
|4/23||Harding Academy||Varsity||Searcy, Ark.||4:30 p.m.|
|5/4-5/5||SEMO JV Trn.||JV||TBA||TBA|
|5/7||South Pemiscot||JV/Varsity||Away||4 p.m.|