2018 Spring Preview: Dora Baseball

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

With a lethal mix of youth and experience, expectations around the Dora baseball program are high heading into the 2018 season.

The Falcons finished 11-6 in 2017 and won the Class 1 District 5 championship. Dora fell 11-0 to Hurley in the sectional round.

Head coach Rick Luna, in his 13th season, credited his team for its strong finish and third-straight district title.

“Last season we got off to a terrible start posting a 1-4 record,” Luna said. “Then the light bulb came on and we won eight of our next nine games going into districts.”

First-baseman and all-district selection Tanner Hoover (.386, 11 RBI, 11 SB) departs the team due to graduation.

“Tanner was a leader of this team and did a lot of the little things that doesn’t show up on the stat page,” Luna said. “His leadership and hard nose work ethic will be missed this season.”

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With only one starter lost to graduation, expect the Falcons to be deep and experienced this season.

Leading the returning starters is all-district selection and White River Conference MVP Austin White.

The senior third-baseman hit for a team-high .481 last season with 22 RBI and 10 stolen bases.

“Austin has great hands at third base,” Luna said. “We look for him to have another MVP-type season.”

Other key starters include senior Kaleb Harris (P/C/UT), senior Robert Vigdal (IF/P), junior J.J. Ryan (OF), sophomore Tyler Luna (1B) and sophomore Peyton Smith (P).

“We are looking forward to our upcoming season,” Coach Luna said. “We bring back six starters from last year’s district championship team and bring in a really good batch of freshmen to throw in the mix.”

While Dora’s returning starters form a solid core, that batch impact freshman should make the Falcons a tough out by the time districts roll around.

Mason Luna (P/SS), Auston Luna (CF/C/P) and Bryson Luna (C/P) add a potent combination of skill and speed to the Falcon lineup. The triplets, along with Isaac Haney (OF/P) and Colby Collins, give Dora a strong freshman presence.

“We are looking forward to our upcoming season,” Coach Luna said. “We bring back six starters from last year’s district championship team and bring in a really good batch of freshmen to throw in the mix.”

Having a fall season to work out the kinks doesn’t hurt, especially when the coach also heads the basketball program in the winter.

“I think having the 19 games this fall has really helped our young guys become adjusted to high school baseball before the main season starts,” Coach Luna said. “All of my basketball guys are my baseball guys as well. So, the success they have had in basketball will hopefully roll over from the court to the field.”

Dora opens the regular season at Licking March 16.