By Dana Harding
The Parkview Vikings struggled a bit in 2016, falling in the first round of district play to complete a 6-20 season. The team looks to bounce back this season with a new coach and a new lineup.
After stints in Pierce City and Billings, head coach Beau Davis begins his first season with the Vikings.
“My philosophy is very simple,” Davis said. “Compete every pitch. My teams have always had a family-like atmosphere and when you play together as a team, and compete to the last out, you will have success. “
Davis enters his rebuilding project at Parkview with a fairly new roster, as well.
“With a fresh start comes the challenge of a lack of varsity experience,” Davis said. “I think that will be my biggest challenge. The way to overcome that is to play.“
Seven starters graduated from last season’s roster, including first baseman Payton Haire, catcher Merrick Altis and pitcher Malachi Gentry.
Riley Rathburn, Dylan Cave, Nicholas Cole, Garrett Cron, Nick Henderson and Trey Lee round out last year’s senior class that has moved on.
Despite the large roster turnover, Davis sees a great opportunity.
“Our biggest strength is that we are all basically new,” Davis said. “There wasn’t much success last season so this is a fresh start for our program.”
Davis will build his roster around returning starter Max Koeppe. The senior shortstop hit .307 last season, with eight doubles and three home runs.
Impact additions to the roster include a pair of junior transfers in Coy Fox and Kody Zarechi. With so many new players vying for starting roles this season, there will likely be some breakout surprises.
“We have some talent here at Parkview,” Davis said. “I can see some of my impact players having an All-State caliber season.”
With a schedule built around the highly-competitive Ozark Conference, Parkview will have early opportunities for growth and improvement. The Vikings Class 5 District 11 opponents will be challenging, as well, featuring the likes of Kickapoo, Nixa, Ozark, Branson, Glendale and West Plains.
“[Our outlook} is very hard to tell at this point, especially since we lost so many starters from last season,” Davis said. “My plan is to stick to my philosophy-build competitive baseball players that play together as a team and find ways to win. We were at the very bottom of both conference and district last year so that leaves only one direction to go.”
Parkview hosts a jamboree March 11 with Hillcrest, Glendale and Fair Grove. The Vikings open the season March 18 in Mt. Home, Arkansas.