By Chris Parker
Sarcoxie posted a 7-15 overall record last season. It was the most wins for the program since 2014. This year, the Bears will look to take a big step forward with a good mix of young players and upperclassmen.
Sophomore Dugan Pogue will be an anchor for the team. He earned first-team all-conference honors as a freshman after he posted a .486 batting average with 17 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He is primarily a catcher, but will see some time on the mound after going 2-2 last year with two saves.
“Dugan led the Conference and Class 3 District 11 with a .483 batting average last season. He is a disciplined hitter and literally works on his craft daily. His overall approach at the plate and on defense as a catcher is to show up every day and get a little better. His natural ability is great, but the kid has really worked hard to become such a great player,” Sarcoxie head coach Jack Altermatt said. “Dugan is one of our team leaders, and he does this by demonstrating a great work ethic. He is a great person, and he is one of the most coachable players I’ve ever coached in 20 years of coaching. My expectations for Dugan this season are that he continues to be a positive leader for our team. I want him to enjoy the process of helping build our team. Finally, if he takes the same routine oriented approach he did last season and over the summer, he will continue to be one of the best players in the area.”
The team leaders will be Kenny Guenzel, Rylee Huff, Carson Torrance and Pogue.
Altermatt on Guenzel: “is a four-year starter and has improved every season since his freshman year. He played outfield for us last year, but can play first base as well. Hoping his off-season work as a lefty pitcher and as a batter will pay dividends for us this season.”
Altermatt on Huff: “played outfield for us last year and will continue there this while batting near the top of the order. His speed and hardworking nature has made him a great leader for our young team. Should have a big season as a senior.”
Altermatt on Torrance: “is Mr. Consistent. Solid glove, solid bat, solid arm, and a great leader on and off the field. Carson will likely be at the top of our rotation this year. He posted a 3-3 record last year and was steady on the mound. He may see some time behind the plate when Dugan Pogue pitches. We’re looking for a big uptick in batting average from Carson this year and that will help our team in a big way.”
Altermatt on Pogue: “Dugan shows up every day and puts in the work. Great swing and a great catcher behind the plate. His pitching improved with every inning last year. Dugan has a big future in baseball. The sky is the limit.”
The pitching rotation will feature Torrance, Pogue, Huff, Guenzel, freshman Caleb Chrisman and sophomore Kade Kellhofer.
Chrisman could also see time behind the plate at catcher when Pogue and Torrance aren’t back there.
Around the infield, Pogue will hold down the catcher position for the most part. Kellhofer and Guenzel will play first base. Josue Dionicio, Baron Ellis, Tyler Cupp and Brayden Muller are in the mix at second base. Torrance, Chrisman and Dionicio are third base candidates. Shortstop will feature a combination of Chrisman, Dionicio and Torrance.
Projected starters in the outfield include: Huff, Guenzel and Jesse Law. Max Wrangler, Cupp and Ellis are also potential factors in the outfield.
“Strengths are that we have a bunch of guys that have put in work for several years now to change our culture,” Altermatt said. “We are young at some spots still, but all of our guys have worked hard to become a team that is a “tough opponent” to play no matter who we are playing. Our defense improved in a big way last year. If our bats can improve and we can get more batters over the .300 mark, we will be successful.”
Sarcoxie will open the season on Mar. 24 at home against McAuley Catholic.
“My expectations for our team are to compete in every single game,” Altermatt said. “We need to have a “never quit” attitude no matter the circumstance. In my experience, that is what makes a team successful over the course of a season.”