By Angie Brushwood (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Ash Grove, MO – Ash Grove Pirates baseball finished 12-11 last season, with a 13-2 loss to El Dorado Springs in district semifinals.
As Troy McMain begins his third year coaching the Pirates, he is ready for a redo on the season’s disappointing end.
“We were first in the district going into that game, but we had crazy errors and bad luck,” said McMain. “This year we’re excited. The kids we have coming back together with the kids coming up are a good blend of leadership. I’m really anxious to see how the younger players turn out and if they’re going to challenge and push the upperclassmen.”
The Pirates graduated some long-term starters in key positions, including three-year pitcher Cody Beasley. Beasley earned honorable mention (pitcher) All-Mid Lakes Conference. Paul Brugh earned 1st team Outfield All-Mid Lakes Conference, and Paul Chavez earned 2nd team Infielder All-Mid Lakes Conference.
Chavez signed with Westminster College in Fulton for baseball.
The Pirates have a solid senior class, including returning starters Braden Trammell, Spencer Eagleburger (.216 batting), Donovan Nicholson, and Chase White. Senior Zach McClelland hit .333 as JV starter and varsity spot player.
White hit .358 last season and earned 2nd team Catcher All-Mid Lakes Conference. Nicholson earned 2nd team Outfield All-Mid Lakes Conference, averaging .324 at bat and 8.5 ERA.
As utility/designated hitter, Trammell (sr.) hit .329, earning 2nd team all-Mid Lakes Conference and honorable mention as infielder. Several of the Pirates’ baseball lineup are multi sport athletes, including Trammell who recently scored his 1,000th for the Pirates.
“Half do football, half do basketball,” said McMain. “It’s nice to see them get that camaraderie playing together throughout the course of the year. It helps their ability and teamwork. I encourage our kids to do multiple things. The good thing is they’ll be conditioned. It’s nice to have that type of athleticism on the field.”
Along with the senior returning starters, junior Draven Zeigler returns to his spot in the lineup at number three, behind Trammell. Zeigler batted .310 with a 5.47 on the mound.
“Draven has had a really good summer with 417,” said McMain. “He amped it up a little bit, so I’m excited to see him back.”
Nicholson, Trammell, and Zeigler will return to the mound. Trammell pitched 4.69 ERA his junior year.
Junior Cody Byerly will likely start for the Pirates, but the remaining starting positions are still up for grabs.
“The Pirates are gifted with a unique blend of experience in the younger players, with five out of nine freshmen having played competitive baseball,” said McMain. “The kids coming up have played ball more than any we’ve had in six or seven years. We’re trying to keep that going and use that to our advantage this year.”
The Pirates compete March 16 in the Pleasant Hope Invitational tournament, and regular season play begins at Mansfield on March 27.