By Andrew Glover
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Last spring the Glencoe Panthers played on one of the largest fields as they advanced to the Class A state baseball tournament. This fall, Glencoe hopes new players will step up on the mound to lead a deep postseason run in the fall.
“We got seven of our first nine coming back,” coach Tony Cazzelle said. “We got Hunter Hall, Ty Lazenby, Claytin Beaver, Andrew Kuhn, Quentin Ash and Jake Lazenby. That’s seven pretty good arms.”
The Panthers lost their top two pitchers — Nathan Melton, who was awarded a scholarship to Eastern Oklahoma State University and Taylor Cavett. Cazzelle said his pitchers will gain experience in the fall. The pitching should be helped by Glencoe’s bats as most of the team hit at least .300 last spring. Hall is the returning leading hitter with a .532 average, eight home runs, 42 runs scored and 46 runs batted in.
“We are going to be able to hit really good,” Cazzelle said. “We have really good speed. Offensively, we are going to be good.”
Cazzelle said making a run in the fall is going to come down to the defense getting settled in.
“With fall baseball it’s the domino effect,” Cazzelle said. “You bring one guy in to pitch you have to move someone around in the field. We have three shortstops and all of them can pitch and that can leave you unsettled.
“We feel pretty good. We’ve had really good practices and are excited about getting going.”
The Ripley Warriors return most of their core after finishing within a couple victories of advancing to state. Ripley only lost three seniors in Caulden Greenfield, Levi Morris and Dalton Watts. Coach Donnie Hoffman said those players will be missed but plenty of talent returns.
“We are excited about the guys we have coming back,” Hoffman said. “The three seniors we lost threw a lot of innings for us. We are excited about some of the younger players that are going to have a bigger role for us.”
Key returners for Ripley include junior Houston Twoguns and sophomore Chandler Salinas. Twoguns was a solid pitcher and hitter. Salinas put up great power numbers last year. Hoffman said those players should get better.
“We had four freshmen that played regularly for us last year that are going to be sophomores,” Hoffman said. “We expect big things from them. Houston Twoguns had a great summer for us and should do some good things. We have a lot of high quality character guys. Our seniors Corey Sadler and Garrett Gosney should do a good job of leading the team.”
Hoffman said they have all the pieces for a run at state and just have to execute.
“A lot depends on how our arms stay in shape but we feel like we have high quality arms,” Hoffman said. “The fall season is always difficult because you have the bigger schools coming down and playing with you. The farther we advance in playoffs is just more experience for those guys and hopefully it carries over into a more productive spring.”
A lot will be new for the Mulhall-Orlando Panthers in the Fall 2013 season including new coach Kirk Kinzie.
“We’ve been practicing since July 1,” Kinzie said. “We got a promising group of kids. We have a young core of sophomores and juniors. The junior high has been out there working with us.”
The Panthers will don new uniforms along with a new field and new indoor facility. Kinzie said the facilities are coming along nicely.
“The turf is in, the lockers are in and our new equipment is in,” Kinzie said. “We made getting the indoor facility done a priority so we could start practicing. We practice in the evenings and are able to use the turf.
“On the field the dirt work is done. We are going to get the dugouts done and the fencing up.”
Kinzie said the field will be more spread out — a change that hopefully will be easier on his pitchers.
“I think we were 290 (feet) on the sides and 330 in center,” Kinzie said. “We are going to be 310 (feet) on the sides and 375 in center. It will be more normal length and should help our pitchers.”
Kinzie said he hopes his squad will take pride in competing.
“We haven’t laid out goals on how far we want to go,” Kinzie said. “We can determine that. More importantly, I want these guys to have fun because that’s something that’s been missing the last couple of years.”
The Frontier Mustangs look to be more competitive this fall as they gained experience last season.
“We played another 15 games this summer,” coach Mike Allen said. “We should definitely be in more games this fall.”
Allen said one of the improvements is the Mustangs’ pitching.
“The pitchers seem to be throwing strikes,” Allen said. “They learned a lot last year and are doing really well. They have put in time and should have a different outcome.”