MSHSAA announced on Monday, Mar. 16 that they would not be cancelling spring sports due to the Coronavirus. There will be delays to the start of the season and you can read the full MSHSAA release on spring sports by clicking here. Many area schools have called off classes and extracurricular activities through at least Apr. 3 and will reassess at that time. We will continue to post our spring previews. Please note that this preview was written before delays for the spring season were announced.
By Chris Parker
Exeter baseball has finished as district runner-up in back-to-back seasons. The Tigers returns six full-time starters looking to win the district title this season.
“The strengths of this team will be talent, depth, experience, and a willingness to go the extra mile day to day in practice,” Exeter head coach Matthew Tripp said. “I believe they are tired of finishing second in districts and are prepared to do the things needed to change that result to a district championship.”
Jared Lee (pitcher/second base) will be the lone senior on the team this year. He had 14 stolen bases and a .281 batting average last year.
“Jared is our lone senior this season. He is an amazing young man with impressive work ethic. He can outwork anyone and consistently does. His example will set the tone for our expectations,” Tripp said.
Hank Woods (pitcher/catcher/infield), Clayton Rose (first/third base) and Kris Allen (pitcher/outfield/first base) are the returning starters from the junior class. Woods hit .519 with 18 RBI on his way to a first-team all-conference and all-district selection.
“Hank was gone this fall but has returned to help us this spring. He is one of the best players in southwest Missouri and will have an impact at the dish, on the bump, or where ever he is on the field,” Tripp said.
Dylon Shaw (utility) and Ceasar Arellano (utility) round out the returning juniors.
The returning sophomore class includes Gretzky Lee (pitcher/shortstop), Corey Hilburn (utility) and Trenton Raney. Lee and Hilburn are returning starters. Hilburn earned first-team all-conference and second-team all-conference selections. He posted a .263 batting average with a 2.78 ERA on the mound.
Cooper Patterson, Levi Gautney and Peyton Rayburn will all compete for varsity playing time this year.
“Attitudes and consistency will be the biggest thing this team needs to work on. Being part of a successful team is more than showing up and doing what you’re supposed to do. When we see the mindset and work ethic reach into our practice every day, not just when a big game is coming up, reach into the classroom, the community, and all aspects of our life, then we’ll reach our goals. We have to be all in and go all out in all aspects of our lives if we want to take that next step,” Tripp said. “We expect to compete in every game we play. We expect to be prepared and perform to the best of our abilities every day, practice or game. We expect to win that first district championship this spring. We expect our talent, work ethic, and experiences to start gelling and the success to come.”