By Derek Shore (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The 2019 season featured a lot of peaks and valleys for the Greenfield Wildcats, but they saved their best baseball for the end of the year.
Greenfield (12-13 overall) beat Hurley in the district semifinals and followed that up with an upset over top-seeded Exeter to win the district title en route to another upset over Class 1 No. 2 ranked Dora in sectionals. Their magical run came to an end in a quarterfinal loss to Walnut Grove.
“Last year was a season about getting better as the year went on,” Greenfield head coach Nick Engleman said. “We took some hard losses, but it prepared us for where we wanted to be at season’s end.”
Greenfield lost three difference-makers to graduation, notably second-team All-State honoree Sawyer Dod. He hit an impressive .536 at the plate and put up a 2.17 ERA and had 22 RBI and 13 stolen bases.
“Sawyer was the backbone of this team,” Engleman said. “He will be a missed part of the lineup and will be almost irreplaceable behind the plate.”
The Wildcats also graduated Colin White, Marcus Wright, and Dawsen Wimer but still return an experienced squad rife with seniors.
Senior Gage Burns returns after a big junior season when he posted a .379 average at the dish and a minuscule 1.27 ERA on the mound. The second-team All-State utility player is described as a gamer, who competes in everything he does.
Junior Caden Sims was a transfer from Clever who did not disappoint. The pitcher/first baseman delivered a 2.80 ERA, earning an Honorable Mention nod on the All-State team.
“He was our workhorse on the mound and could work deep into games because he attacked hitters,” Engleman said. “He will be recovering from a knee injury, but we hope to have him back late in the season.”
Seniors Trenton Wilson and Brayton Ipock, as well as juniors Blade Welch and Levi Matthews, round out the returning starters.
Wilson found ways to make plays in the field, have timely hits and move runners when it mattered most. While Ipock didn’t hit for a great average, he was an on-base machine and is described as a great baserunner.
Welch filled in at third base and worked hard to improve his swing and should be someone that will log big innings on the mound as well. Matthews made a switch from the infield to the outfield last spring, playing a great right field and will roam center field in 2019.
Other returning lettermen include junior Chase Daniel and sophomore Chris Kemp.
Top newcomers expected to see varsity time include seniors Bailey Baker, Tyrell Stafford, Seth Trask and Nico Murray. Junior Daunte Stafford and sophomores Noah Jeffreys, Dalson Meyers, Jasper Meyers and Dustin Harmon round out the newcomers.
“This year should be an interesting year because we will have so many new faces looking to compete in so many different roles,” Engleman said. “We are looking to embrace the process of working on the small things and looking to improve our overall skill sets.
“We will look to continue to work hard so that we can be playing our best baseball come season’s end.”
Greenfield opens the season with the Lamar Tournament, starting March 15.