2020 Spring Preview: Plato Baseball

By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

The Plato Eagles baseball program compiled a 13-8 record last season coming up one game short of winning a district title.

The Eagles fell 6-0 to Marion C. Early during the first round of districts one year ago, and now they look to get over the hump with a new skipper.

This year, Brady Dean takes over the program: a program that fields its third head coach in as many years.

Dean comes to Plato after stops in Cabool, Stoutland, and Greenfield, as this makes his sixth season in the dugout as skipper.

The team graduated seven players from last year’s district runner-up team, but Dean was well-versed coming into the situation.

“I knew this team pretty well from playing against them,” he said. “They are a good group of players. Definitely a lot of talent.”

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Senior hurler Hayden Smith, senior hurler and infielder Grady Todd, and senior A.J. Rodts will serve as field generals this spring.

All were 2019 lettermen, Dean said.

“He had a really good fall,” Dean said of Todd.

Smith — a four-year player — was named first-team all-conference last season, and Rodts has been used as a pitcher, infielder, and a designated hitter.

“Looking to use those guys as our leaders, not only on the field but with our program,” Dean said of the trio. “We are basically trying to reload with a young group.”

Five upperclassmen comprise the roster, but the core comes from the sophomore class, as seven players will be in the dugout.

Those sophomores include: Kevan Monds, Austin Fulmer, Mayfield, Cotrel, Shay Todd, Noah Haney, and Levi Johnson.

Defensively in ’20, Smith takes over as the ace of the staff.

“He is definitely our number one,” Dean said of Smith.

Last season, behind two other hurlers, Smith tossed 23.1 innings with a 1.8 ERA but was not credited with a win or loss.

“I have a sophomore who will be our number one, for sure, next year (2021), and that is Elijah Mayfield,” Dean said of the southpaw, who currently is a sophomore.

The Eagles swung their way to a .333 average last season, and produced an .871 OPS.

After losing the aforementioned seven players to graduation, Dean hopes to minimize any drop off in offensive production.

Last season, the team had six players hit at least .300, with Smith belting his way to a .392 average, and Rodts wasn’t too far ahead, at .405.

Currently, the team is searching for a preseason jamboree but has yet to have much luck, Dean said.

The season opener is slated for March 21 at Steelville, against the host and Scott City.

After the opener, the Eagles fly home to face Iberia March 26, and back-to-back road trips to Summersville (March 30) and Conway one day later.

The Eagles then host Dora before heading to the Iberia Tournament April 3-4.

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