2021 Spring Preview: Crane Baseball

By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

While the 2020 spring sports cancellations hit all programs hard, it was especially difficult for Crane and head coach Bryan Harmon who had very high hopes for a postseason run.

“As was the case with many teams, we were very disappointed to have the 2020 season cancelled,” Harmon said. “We were going into the season at No. 3 in the preseason state rankings.”

Despite the missed opportunity, Crane isn’t wasting any time looking in the rear view. Heading into the 2021 campaign, the Pirates have three big reasons for optimism once again.

First, the team only graduated a pair of seniors in Darin Terrell and Heath Quick, with Terrell moving on to play baseball at Bethany College this season.

With only two graduates, Crane’s roster is loaded this season with talent and experience including nine seniors in infielder/outfielder Wesley Clark, pitcher/shortstop Zane Compton, pitcher/second baseman Chase Conrad, pitcher/outfielder Koy Essary, pitcher/infielder Harley Hebert, catcher/infielder Isaac Robinson, pitcher/third baseman Hayden Shepard, pitcher/outfielder Isaiah Smith, and pitcher/first baseman Seth Steele.


The senior-laded squad will be joined by two more returning players in junior pitcher/infielder/outfielder Wyatt Howard and sophomore catcher/infielder Blake Evans.

For Harmon, entering his 15th season at the helm and 28th at the school, the lost opportunities from 2020 have become fuel for an experienced, eager group of seniors.

“Missing the season has made our players even more hungry for success in the upcoming season,” Harmon said. “Our senior class has stepped up as leaders and are ready to push the younger players to success.”

Crane’s final reason for optimism lies in the fact the Pirates were able to play a full fall season and develop as a team.

“This senior class was fortunate enough to have a fall season in which they went 24-4,” Harmon said. “Each of them contributed to the success and will be expected to continue the hard work.”

With a deep, talented roster, Harmon and Crane are once again focused on making a run in the postseason.

“With a large group of returning players, they have set high expectations for themselves both individually and as a team,” Harmon said. “Our biggest strength is our experience. This group of players have played together since junior high and they have built an atmosphere of support and accountability that breeds success.”

If Crane has a question mark heading into the season, it could be depth on the mound.

“Because of some injuries, we were forced to develop more pitching depth in the fall,” Harmon said. “We hope to use that depth along with the returning players to have a strong pitching staff.”

Following a March 11 jamboree at Joplin with College Heights, Miller and Sarcoxie, Crane will open its season at home March 19 with a double-header against Fair Grove and Verona.

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