Every other week Ozarks Sports Zone will rank the area’s baseball teams based on dominance by class, essentially their pound-for-pound ranking in their respective class. Rankings are based on results, recent success and strength of schedule. Coaches from all area teams are asked to provide information.
THE NEW O-ZONE APP IS HERE!
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FOR APPLE
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID
1. Mansfield (C2, 11-0, 2) – We have a new number one for the first time this season. The Lions passed the 365 day mark this week since their last loss. Not only are they winning, but they’re doing it in dominating fashion with five consecutive shutouts. The pitching has been outstanding all season and now the bats are coming around. Crayton Henry is hitting .533 with 17 RBI. Jacob Gray is close behind with a .522 average. Spencer Greene and Devin Kingery are both in double digit RBIs. And Mason Roy has been one of the area’s best backstops, throwing out 76% of would be base stealers. The top-ranked Lions should be considered the favorite to bring home a state title in O’Fallon in five weeks.
2. Aurora (C4, 14-2, 1) – We still love the Houn’ Dawgs, and still fully believe they can bring home a Class 4 state title, but a head-scratching loss to Carthage has them down a spot in this week’s rankings. The pitching has been as good as any team, in any class, in the state. Zac Shoemaker and Wyatt Sparks lead a staff that has allowed just 11 earned runs in 16 games this season. Shoemaker tossed a perfect game in an 11-0 win over McDonald County. Gage Singer, Matthew Miller and Shoemaker have been outstanding at the plate, but the offense has gone stagnant at a couple key times. Defense is another area to focus on as districts approach in a couple weeks.
3. Willard (C5, 15-3, 13) – The Tigers are by far the biggest climber in this week’s rankings. They’ve been hands-down one of the best stories in the Ozarks this spring and are scorching hot with 12 wins in their last 13 games, including some quality opponents (Francis Howell, Rock Bridge, Ozark). Coach McGee calls it the toughest schedule his team has ever played and despite that they just keep finding ways to win, like when they committed six errors but still beat Ozark in extra innings. Ben Morris, Connor Poulson and Tanner Morris are all hitting over .400 and the pitching staff led by Caleb Lasher, Benjamin Fugitt, Tanner Norris and Matthew Eleiott has been as good as anyone. This week may just be the biggest test to date with games against Webb City, Kickapoo and Aurora (weather permitting).
4. Monett (C4, 13-2, 3) – Just a couple hours after our last Power Rankings, the Cubs fell 4-0 to Big 8 rival Monett, getting just a single hit off MSU commit Wyatt Sparks. Obviously that was not the outcome they hoped for, but it shows that they are right there with the Class 4 top-ranked Houn’ Dawgs and could likely see them again in the Class 4 sectionals. Since then, the Cubs have been rolling with quality wins over Seneca, Branson and Mt Vernon. The upcoming week is another test with a trio of conference games followed by a home matchup against Class 5 Republic Friday.
5. Walnut Grove (C1, 11-3, 6) – Since dropping three games in the first week of the season the Tigers have been one of the area’s hottest teams, winning 10 in a row. The group, comprised of several state champ basketball players, is really heating up as the temps heat up. Logan Thomazin leads the way both on the mound and at the plate, hitting .500 with a .57 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. Kyle Keith is close behind with a 1.20 ERA and 34 strikeouts and Jaron Dishman adds a third quality arm with a 4-1 mark and a 2.96 ERA. The big x-factor is all-state pitcher Hayden Jeffryes, working his way back from an arm injury. If he can be 100% by playoff time the Tigers are a legit state champ contender.
6. Lincoln (C2, 16-1, 4) – The Cardinals continue to roll but got tested several times in the past couple weeks, which could be the best thing for them come playoff time. They trailed both Skyline and Windsor in the 5th inning or later before rallying back for wins. They did take their lone loss of the season to a very good Northwest Hughesville team (#3 in Class 1), but will get a shot at redemption in the conference tournament this weekend (weather permitting). Saturday is another major test as they’re scheduled to face Plato and Buffalo at SBU. Every team in the state is trying to cope with the new pitch count limits, but it’s especially important for smaller schools with limited arms available.
7. Rogersville (C4, 12-4, 9) – The Wildcats are another one of the hottest teams in the area with eight straight wins. That includes some quality victories over Catholic, Joplin and Hillcrest. MSU signee Jordan Fitzpatrick continues to mash with an area-best 11 home runs in 16 games (that’s nationally good!). One thing is for sure, Coach Ledl doesn’t shy away from quality competition and even with that being said the L-R program is approaching 100 wins in the past five seasons.
8. Salem (C4, 13-1, 5) – It’s been a busy couple weeks for the Tigers who have wins over Ava, Iberia, St. James, Houston, St. Clair and Willow Springs with their lone loss of the season coming in a 2-0 defeat to Licking (4th game in 3 days). There’s no questioning that this team has ability and a proven track record for success, but at closer look their schedule features just a pair of Class 4 teams and one of those has just two wins. Things will get a whole lot more difficult in districts, and it will be interesting to see how this talented, veteran group responds.
9. Webb City (C5, 14-4, 7) – The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for the Cardinals with nine games in 14 days, so once again we can’t judge them too harshly for a couple losses. After a key loss to Ozark they ripped off five straight wins before two of the next three to quality Class 5 opponents Rock Bridge and Francis Howell. Things get no easier this week with games against Branson, Glendale and Willard.
10. Galena (C2, 11-2, 8) – Mother Nature has not been kind to the Bears as they’ve had twice as many games rained out (4) as games played (2). The good news is they were both wins (Clever and Billings). There may be a little rust on Coach Richardson’s club, but his big-boppers continue to produce at a high level. Logan Sorrell, Luke Burk, Austin Holt and Caleb Hall are all hitting over .400. Sorrell and Hall are also both 4-0 on the mound. Hopefully the rain will cooperate in the next couple weeks as they have four key SWCL matchups against Sparta, Spokane, Fordland and Forsyth to end the regular season.
11. Plato (C2, 12-4, 10) – Since we last spoke the Eagles are 3-0, outscoring Newburg, Crocker and Stoutland 41-4. As a team, they’re hitting .379 led by the trio of Wiley Miller (.491 avg, 2 HR, 29 RBI), Jack Morrison (.422 avg, 18 RBI) and Gaven Vaughan (.465, 20 stolen bases). Miller continues to be among the best two-way players in the area with a 4-0 record, 1.05 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched. The next couple weeks should be interesting with eight games on the schedule.
12. Pierce City (C2, 14-3, 15) – Up and down the Eagles’ schedule there’s a whole lot to like. They’ve got a ton of good wins, several against ranked opponents (#6 Galena, #8 New Covenant, #6 Greenfield). Even their losses are quite respectable (Conway 4-3, #4 Monett 4-3 in extra innings). The Eagles have shown great balance with a 1.6 ERA to go with an offense that’s banging out 11 runs per game (outscoring opponents 165-44). Tonight’s game at SRVC rival Diamond will be a big one!
13. Eminence (C1, 13-3, NR) – The Redwings are the lone newcomer to the top 15 this week and deservedly so. Not only are they 5-0 since the last rankings, but they have a very quality win over Plato (5-4 in extra innings) and have outscored the other four opponents 65-2 (now that’s dominant!). They continue to play up and have just two losses against Class 1 opponents since last May. The lineup has scored almost 200 runs with an incredible five different players driving in over 20 runs.
14. New Covenant (C2, 11-4, 14) – The 8th ranked Warriors have had an up and down last couple of weeks with wins over Bradleyville, Fair Play, Reeds Spring, Seymour and Fair Grove coupled with losses to Ash Grove and Pierce City. Baseball has more x-factors than any other sport, especially with MSHSAA’s new pitch count rule. Teams should not be judged too harshly on a win or loss because it all depends on who was available to pitch. Unfortunately, the new rule handcuffs coaches from letting their ace put it all on the line like Cody Malan so famously did in last year’s playoffs. Depth becomes of vital importance and you can bet the Hartley’s will have that lined out by districts. Oh by the way, with Central coming up on the schedule, they have the rare opportunity to beat a team in all five classes (fun fact of the day).
15. Diamond (C3, 12-3, 11) – The Wildcats continue to be one of the area’s top Class 3 teams. Carter Prewitt is coming off an unbelievable couple weeks where he hit seven home runs and also struck out 12 in a win over Lockwood. Hunter Renfro also launched a pair of home runs during that stretch while Trey Bowman gave up just two runs in seven innings. A little bad news/good news situation; the team lost first baseman Trey Marborough to injury over the weekend, but are expected to get back veteran Christian Maturino later this week. As mentioned above, they have a HUGE game against Pierce City Tuesday afternoon.
Knocking on the Door: Kickapoo (C5, 10-7, 12), Forsyth (C3, 11-5, 15), Glendale (C5, 13-6, NR), Catholic (C4, 12-5, NR), Lakeland (C1, 12-4, NR), Buffalo (C4, 12-2, NR), Greenfield (C1, 9-3, NR), Mtn Grove (C3, 8-3, NR), Norwood (C2, 8-4, NR), Conway (C3, 9-5, NR), Hartville (C2, 9-3, NR)