Expectations are high in Webb City this spring.
It’s not hard to see why.
With a talented senior class, and with plenty of depth, the Cardinals expect to put a stellar team on the field.
Webb City will be led by seven solid seniors.
“They’re a seasoned group,” Webb City coach Flave Darnell said. “We’re going to be as good as our seniors. We’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot of baseball, football and other sports. I think we have a lot of athleticism and team speed. Our seniors have done a good job of leading and our practices have been really smooth. We’re just excited.”
In addition to the seniors, there are 10 juniors on the roster, with many expected to contribute nicely.
“We’re real experienced,” Darnell said. “We were fortunate to play 40 games last summer. That was big for us. We had an awesome summer.”
Four Webb City seniors have already signed to play college baseball, as Treghan Parker, Cole Gayman and Eli Goddard are headed to Missouri Southern while Matt Woodmansee has inked with Labette Community College in Kansas.
“Those guys have played a lot and we expect big things out of them,” Darnell said, noting high expectations for the season.
Webb City’s No. 1 starter will be Gayman, a 5-foot-11 right-hander who garnered all-conference honors after going 7-2 with a 2.33 ERA during his sophomore campaign in 2019.
Currently slated to be Webb City’s No. 2 starter is 6-3 senior righty Noah Mitchell.
Junior left-hander Gavin Stowell and senior righty Shane Noel are other possible starting pitchers. Senior right-hander Goddard and junior righty Cooper Crouch are relievers.
“We’ve got a senior-laden team and our pitching staff is the same way,” Darnell said. “We’ve also got a couple of younger guys who I think can make an impact on the mound. We feel really good about our pitching staff as a whole.”
AROUND THE HORN: INFIELD AND OUTFIELD
Stowell and Crouch are possible starters at first base. And when he’s not pitching, Gayman could also see time at first or second base.
Junior Eric Fitch is a likely starter at second base, while Parker will start at shortstop and Noel is slated to start at third base.
Goddard will be behind the plate.
As far as the outfield, Weathers will once again patrol center field, while Woodmansee will be the starter in right field.
Darnell said the left field spot is still up for grabs. Stowell, junior Jeremiah Leaming and junior Cade Wilson are players who could see time in left. Wilson is coming off an ankle injury suffered during the football season.
“I wouldn’t say our lineup is set by any means,” Darnell said. “We’ve got some battles going on and that’s a great thing. We’ve got guys pushing each other for playing time. That competition in practice will pay off when it gets to game time.”
Weathers and Parker are expected to hit at the top of the order.
The speedy Weathers, who’s headed to Kansas State to play football, hit .346 as a sophomore, earning all-district honors.
Parker had a stellar sophomore season, hitting .420 and earning first team All-Central Ozark Conference honors and all-district recognition.
Woodmansee and Noel are likely middle of the order hitters.
“I can’t say enough about Matt’s progression from his sophomore year to now,” Darnell said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s now an RBI guy, along with Shane Noel.”
Gayman and Goddard will hit fifth or sixth. Junior Aiden Brock is a likely designated hitter.
SEASON BEGINS SATURDAY
The Cardinals will host Rogersville at 11 a.m. on Saturday in LAEL Leadoff Classic action. Webb City will also be at home next Monday against Republic in another LAEL clash.
Of course, there was no spring season in 2020 thanks to COVID, so this will be Darnell’s first official outing as Webb City’s head coach.
Webb City went 17-12 and captured a district title in 2019.
“I think our kids are really excited to get back on the diamond,” said Darnell, who spent 15 seasons in charge of the Carl Junction baseball program before assisting the Cardinals in ’19. “We feel good about our guys. We had a good jamboree yesterday. We saw a lot of positive things. We’re just excited to get rolling.”
Webb City baseball roster
Seniors: Matt Woodmansee, Shane Noel, Cole Gayman, Treghan Parker, Devrin Weathers, Eli Goddard, Noah Mitchell.
Juniors: Eric Fitch, Cade Wilson, Dante Hill, Brantley Carter, Kenley Hood, Kolton Eilenstein, Aiden Brock, Cooper Crouch, Gavin Stowell, Jeremiah Leaming.
Sophomores: Walker Sweet, Eli Miller, Tyler Marbut, Landon Johnson, McQuade Eilenstein, Gage Chapman, William Hayes, Max Stovern, Kaylor Darnell, Cy Darnell.