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Sturgeon ball players ready to play

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2018 at 6:11 am

Fall in Sturgeon means diamonds, ball diamonds actually.

The Sturgeon Bulldogs softball and baseball teams have been putting in the hours as their seasons roar to a start this Friday afternoon.

Both teams will hit the road for their first games, facing Prairie Home, Friday August 25. The next day, the ladies play in the eight-team Hallsville tournament.

Josh Nichols practices a hitting drill.

Josh Nichols practices a hitting drill.

Kevin Hicks, 20-year veteran of Sturgeon sports will again lead the baseball team.

Kylee Foster, 2014 SHS graduate and veteran starter at catcher for the Central Methodist University softball team has stepped into the head coach slot for the Lady Bulldogs. Last year she assisted under former head coach Gina Mills, who has stayed on as an assistant. Last season the Lady Bulldogs were 13-13.

Hicks said he has 14 players out this season, down slightly from last year’s team.

His returning varsity squad includes Jacob Brooks, Corbin Gerhig, Logan Flaspholer, Blake Bailey, Trenton Bolles, Jake Snider, Michael Hatfield and Josh Nichols – the team’s lone senior.

The Bulldogs finished the spring season as district champions, with a 6-12 record.

This season the baseball team will be relying on solid pitching and defense, Hicks said. “We will definitely rely on solid pitching and defense.

Jake Snider, a junior, and Jacob Brooks, a sophomore will be sharing varsity time on the pitcher’s mound, Hicks said.

Regarding the batter’s box, Hicks said to expect a variety of hitting styles. “Playing it close to the chest, he said “Oh, we’ve got a wide range of talents there. You never know, you could see a lot of small ball . . . there will definitely see aggressive base running.”

There will be a lot of learning and instructive coaching this season. “We are mostly freshman and sophomores. . .  This summer was not good for summer ball. We maybe had six practices together and they boys were mostly playing other sports.”

That means, he said, observers of Bulldog baseball practices are going to see Hicks and his assistant coaches, the father and son team of Bob and Will Roberts, preaching a lot of baseball fundamentals. “We are emphasizing the fundaments,” he said, “you get the little things right to build the big things.”

Foster’s Lady Bulldogs have 14 players this season.

Returning varsity includes Erin Mills at third base, Emma Bright – short stop, Taylor Harris at catcher, along with Sam Wilson and Katie Calvert at pitcher. The

Wilson and Calvert will be working on teasing strike-outs from opposing batters through smart use of inside and outside pitches, Foster said.

At the plate, the Lady Bulldogs intend to keep the opposing teams guessing.

“We will have a mixture of long ball, short ball, strategic running and aggressive base running,” Foster said.

Sturgeon will be focusing on their strengths.

Those include teamwork and attitude, she said and consistently giving their best efforts in practice.

“We’ve got a lot of new girls this season,” Foster said. “Base-running will be very strategic for the new players and very aggressive for our experienced ones.”

The players will not be as rusty as some teams, she said, “Some girls played a lot of summer ball and some were on travelling teams.”

In practices, she said she is stressing commitment, accountability, teamwork, hustle and communication. “Definitely, the little things,” she said, “because they make the big things happen.”

She said the teams to beat in order to win the Central Activities Conference championship this season are Cairo and Pilot Grove.

To win District, she said, Calgary Lutheran is the team to beat.