New season, same expectations for NMCC baseball
New Madrid County Central baseball will lean heavily on its experience on the mound and defense to carry the team at the start of the season while figuring out its offensive identity.
The Eagles return five starters from last season’s squad that finished 9-13 in seniors Chris Grissom, Carson Pfeffer, Clay Cope, and juniors Ayden McCanless and Brady Swims.
“We are going to lean heavily on the arms of Cope, Swims, and [sophomore] JG Harris,” said NMCC coach Joseph McClarty. “We also want to get some innings out of McCanless, Grissom and Pfeffer. With the pitch counts and increased number of games we can play, we need as many arms as possible so everyone may pitch before the end of the season. Offensively we will be looking for everyone to step up to replace the production we lost to graduation.”
McCanless finished last season with a .313 batting average and tied for the team lead in hits with 21. He also lead the team in RBIs with 21 and was selected All-SEMO Conference honorable mention.
Cope was the team's top pitching, throwing 38 total innings with a team-high 48 strikeouts and a 3.68 ERA. He was also solid a the plate with a .281 average, 18 hits, 12 RBIs and 15 runs scored.
Pfeffer batted .245 with 12 hits, five RBIs and 11 runs scored and Grissom had eight hits, six RBIs and five runs scored in limited action.
Swims pitched the second-most innings (34.2), earning a 3-2 overall record with 35 strikeouts and a 3.23 ERA.
“We expect everyone to contribute,” McClarty said. “Everyone has a role on the team whether it be a starter or a bench player. We want everyone to accept their role and give the team everything they have. The coaches preach being fundamentally sound on defense (make the routine play), we want our pitchers to get ahead of hitters and offensively we preach having quality at-bats, getting a good pitch to hit and putting the ball in play.
“Every year we expect to compete for a district championship,” he concluded. “This year is no different. That will never change.”
NMCC hosts Caruthersville (0-0) for its season opener on Tuesday, March 21.