This is our final regular season Power Rankings. The list is based on several factors, including record, strength of schedule, recent success, coaches comments and the “eye test”. Rankings are based on dominance by class, essentially how they stack up pound-for-pound against other teams in the rest of the state. Coaches are contacted to provide recommendations, stats and team info.
(Classification, record, last ranking in parenthesis)
1. Aurora (C4, 25-1, 1) – They started the season number one and ended the regular season number one. The Houn’ Dawgs cruised to a third straight Big 8 championship and are still the favorites to repeat as Class 4 state champs. With that being said, the district is no cake walk with the likes of Rogersville, Hollister and Catholic looming. Pitching has been the key all year. MSU signee Wyatt Sparks leads a staff with an incredible .838 ERA. The offense has been good with a .301 average. You don’t need a lot of runs with pitching this good, but it never hurts.
2. Walnut Grove (C1, 18-1, 4) – This list is about dominance by class and the Tigers have done just that. Their lone loss came to a strong Class 2 Skyline team, 4-2. Other than that, they’ve scored double digits 11 times and have allowed more than five runs just three times. MSU signee Logan Thomazin fired another no-hitter last week. He’s the ace every team fears facing, but a team is only as good as its no. 2 and 3 starters. It’s time to see if the Tigers can put it all together and make a final four run.
3. Strafford (C3, 20-4, 3) – Under the radar no more; the Indians are getting everyone’s best right now and not skipping a beat. Facing their ace, the Indians got a payback win against Class 4 Hollister at the Forsyth Tournament. After beating Galena and Billings they faced Aurora in the championship. No, they didn’t win, but falling 3-0 shows this is a roster that can hang with anyone and has the fire power to make a deep playoff run.
4. Webb City (C5, 23-4, 2) – The Cardinals have four losses but could just as easily be undefeated. A one-run loss to Nixa last week cost them the outright COC Large title. Despite that they enter districts as the top seed and won’t face a team over .500 until a potential sectional showdown with the Glendale-Nixa-Kickapoo-Ozark gauntlet district winner. Whichever team comes out of that mess will likely be treated to facing Nebraska signee Tyler Martin; the big lefty is easily one of the top pitchers in the state.
5. Mansfield (C2, 15-6, 5) – The Lions hit the postseason with four more losses than they did last year when they brought home the Class 2 state title, but the level of competition is much better. First year head coach Joe Garrison believes those difficult games, 13 of which came against bigger competition, will have his team prepared for the playoffs. Despite the difficult schedule the team his hitting a robust .327. They’re the district two-seed next week at top seed Seymour, who beat them 4-3 back on April 9th.
6. New Covenant (C2, 20-5, 6) – The Mark Twain Conference champ Warriors saw their 15-game winning streak snapped with a 15-6 loss to Class 4 Reeds Spring. Despite that, the NCA offense is humming with double digit outbursts in 12 of 13 games, hitting a remarkable .411 on the year. The Warriors are the top seed and host for districts beginning Tuesday at the Fed.
7. Willard (C5, 24-6, 8) – The youthful Tigers have taken their lumps this season, but are right where they want to be heading into districts. The talented one-two punch of Tanner Norris and Matthew Eleiott are rested with climbing velocities. The lineup is clicking and they’re battle-tested of late, facing a trio of Division 1 pitchers, including a 5-2 win against Aurora and MSU signee Wyatt Sparks. They’re the top seed at Hillcrest with a potentially difficult championship game against Lebanon or Rolla.
8. Halfway (C1, 17-4, 7) – The Cardinals have been very good this year, but you can’t help but notice they’ve lost to Walnut Grove twice; the most recent defeat coming earlier this week, 11-1. Perhaps the latter was a “cat and mouse” ploy to avoid giving something away. Either way, throw out the records when the two likely hook up again next Thursday in the district championship at Halfway. First things first though, Halfway will have to get through 18-4 Lakeland just to reach the championship game.
9. Mountain Grove (C3, 16-6, 11) – The Panthers took losses to Licking and Ava this season. Well, it just so happens their district opponents are Licking and Ava. MG may be the two seed, but I don’t think anyone is looking past them. Coach McGownd has the talent and experience to go deep and it starts with Cade Coffman. The senior is hitting .517 and is 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Throw in Connor McNew (.433 avg), John Felker (.448 avg) and Bailey Linton (3-0, 2.36 ERA) and you have a pretty tough Class 3 squad.
10. Dixon (C3, 18-3, NR) – We’ve been sleeping on the Bulldogs, but WAKE UP! This team is 18-3 with dominating wins over Plato and Licking in the last couple weeks. The pitching staff has a .92 ERA. The lineup has scored 164 runs. Both are led by Braden Mahurin. You may not have heard of Braden, but he’s hitting .592 and is 8-0 with a 1.07 ERA and 71 strikeouts on the mound. I don’t care who you’re playing, those numbers are sick! Despite all that, the Bulldogs are the underdog in districts next week in Mokane with top seed South Callaway lurking on the top half of the bracket.
11. Glendale (C5, 20-7, 13) – Willard, Ozark, Kickapoo, Nixa, Lebanon, Rolla; most of the best Class 5 teams in the Ozarks. What do they have in common? They all lost to Glendale. Sure, the Falcons haven’t won them all, but they’ve shown they can beat anyone, especially when Springfield Leadoff Club Pitcher of the Year Ethan Paschke (4-0, 1.24 ERA) is on the hill and Ty Wilmsmeyer (.447 avg, 6 HR) is mashing. Throw in Max Elmer (.400 avg) and Thomas Brand (.400 avg) and you can see why the Falcons earned the top seed in the incredible deep Class 5 District 11 tournament.
12. Nixa (C5, 23-6, NR) – The Eagles lost four out of five in early April then were run-ruled by Ozark the following week. We (aka me) fell asleep on them, but it’s all about heating up at the right time and Coach Daugherty’s team is doing just that. They’ve won 13 of 14 entering districts and it’s not just how many they’ve won, it’s who they’ve beaten; Webb City, Kickapoo and Willard, arguably three of the best overall teams in Southwest Missouri. Who will emerge from this super-district (Glendale, Nixa, Kickapoo, Ozark)? Your guess is as good as mine, but that team will have EARNED IT!
13. Crane (C2, 19-5, NR) – The Pirates are among the hottest teams in the Ozarks with wins in 11 of their last 12. The lone loss coming in the regular season finale against Class 4 Reeds Spring. During that stretch, head coach Bryan Harmon picked up his 300th career win, including a comeback against Clever to clinch the SWCL title. Tune in to the O-Zone Show Sunday night, 10:35 on KY3, for more on the Pirates and their cerebral roster and its super-charged GPA.
14. Plato (C2, 18-5, 12) – The Eagles have been here before and are hoping for a different outcome this time around. Once again, Plato is the Class 2 District 9 top seed with Hartville the number two. Last year, it was Hartville who pulled the championship upset. The Eagles are getting healthy and believe they’re ready for a rematch. Jack Morrison is hitting .492 to lead the team. Gaven Vaughan leads the pitching staff with a 6-0 mark and Morrison is close behind with his 5-1 record.
15. Skyline (C2, 21-5, NR) – The Tigers have an impressive list of wins (Clever, Fair Grove, Lakeland, Lincoln, Walnut Grove), yet have flow under the radar in Class 2 for the most part. Remember, Strafford is Class 3, so the Tigers don’t have to deal with that again. The path is fairly clear to the quarterfinals, so don’t be surprised is we’re still talking about the Tigers in a couple weeks.
Knocking on the Door: Stockton (C3, 17-7, 14), Dora (C1, 17-6, 9), Clever (C3, 16-6, 10), Lakeland (C1, 18-4, NR), Ozark (C5, 18-8, NR), Seymour (C2, 19-5, NR), Kickapoo (C5, 20-10, NR), Rolla (C5, 20-6-1, NR), Hollister (C4, 20-6, 15), Eminence (C1, 13-3, NR), Lebanon (C5, 18-7, NR), Lincoln (C2, 21-4, NR), Catholic (C4, 21-7, NR), Purdy (18-6, C2, NR), Pierce City (C2, 17-4, NR)