2023 Spring Preview: Ava Baseball


By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

In his first year at the helm, Weston Loftin led the Ava Bears to 13 wins and a second-place conference finish. The Bears then lost eight starters who earned postseason honors to graduation and now return just one who is battle-tested.

Ashton Stout is the lone starter from last season and will return to his left field position. “He had a great year defensively and is making strides offensively,” said Coach Loftin. “I expect his athleticism to help him a lot.” Stout will also contribute on the mound and earned an all-conference honorable mention last season.

Senior Wyatt Johnson will take the reins behind the plate. “He has the knowledge and the skill set to be a catcher,” said Loftin. “We expect him to be a big ‘lead by example’ guy on the team by his work ethic.”

Ryan Thompson is a junior shortstop and third baseman. “Ryan is a baseball player through and through,” said Loftin. “That showed in the number of positions he played last year. He will most likely be on the left side of the infield and one of our main starting pitchers.”

6’2” sophomore Preston Adams will contribute as shortstop and third baseman. “Preston has all the intangibles,” said Coach Loftin. “He should also be playing on the left side of the infield and will be a main pitcher on the mound. He got some valuable playing time as a freshman that was big for his development.”

Newcomers to varsity include Roebe Henry, a 6’0” junior infielder and pitcher. Per his coach, Roebe has the ability to play several infield positions and can swing the bat. “He is one of those kids that leads by example,” said Loftin.


Junior outfielder Tyson Tidwell “is an outfielder that has continued to figure it out,” said Loftin. “He has some great speed, so we will try to utilize that.”

Brandt Snelson is a 6’0” junior first baseman and pitcher. “On the mound, he’s a guy that consistently fills up the strike zone,” said Loftin.

Matthew Lakey, junior, has spent most of his time in high school behind the plate but will probably split time between working there and third base. “He has a good feel for both positions,” said Loftin.

Garrison Honeycutt is a 6’5” sophomore first baseman and pitcher. “Garrison is the prototypical first baseman when it comes to wanting a tall, athletic kid at that position,” said Coach Loftin. “He will help us out a lot on the mound as well. He has increased size and strength since last year and that will be crucial.”

Devon Sawyer, sophomore outfielder, has also added to his strength this year. “Devon has the wheels to run down just about any ball in the outfield. We will rely on this athleticism,” said Loftin.

Kenzee McFarlin, 6’2” sophomore first baseman, “has probably worked on his baseball skills about as much as anyone I’ve ever seen in the off-season,” said Loftin. “That ‘want-to’ mentality will take him a long way.” He could also see time at DH.

Jordan Hutchinson, sophomore utility, has the ability to be one of the Bears’ top athletes. “He could see himself at just about any position due to his athleticism,” said Loftin.

Kyle Pitts is a freshman utility player and pitcher. “Kyle is another baseball junkie,” said Loftin. “He lives for the sport and should be pushing for some serious playing time. He is a third baseman by trade but can pitch and play outfield.”

Coach Loftin said the upcoming season for Ava will have a different look due to the lack of varsity experience returning. “We do have guys that have played a lot of baseball in the past and are eager to fill whatever role is asked of them this year,” he said.

Loftin believes Ava will put up a fight for the conference despite the numerous changes. “There are quality teams in our conference that will make the conference battle a fun race,” he said. “If we have the same district as we did last year, it will be a tough district.”

The Bears will host a Jamboree March 14 with Springfield Catholic, West Plains, and Mountain Grove. They will then go on the road March 18 to Clinton and will host their home opener March 21 vs. Hollister.

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