2024 Spring Preview: Nixa Baseball


By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

2023 proved to be a magical season for Nixa baseball and head coach Logan Hughes.

The 32-8 Eagles followed up a second-straight 30-win season with a run all the way to a Class 6 fourth place finish.

Not a bad resume for Hughes, as he prepares for his third season at the Nixa helm.

“We set a new standard for Nixa baseball, and that is we expect to be one of the best teams in the state every year,” Hughes said. “I believe the biggest thing we saw as coaches from our players is that they believe we belong with the best teams in the state. We got a lot of great experience last year.”

In order to continue building on his program’s recent success, Hughes will need to find replacements for a talented class of graduates, including all-state honoree Ethan Taylor.

“Ethan Taylor was our ace last year,” Hughes said. “He led our team in a lot of categories on the mound. He is currently on a mission trip in California for two years. “

Nixa is fortunate to have another all-state selection returning in Rylan Michel.

“Rylan Michel is a senior outfielder who led our team in a lot of offensive categories last season,” Hughes said. “He is very athletic, with excellent bat speed and is just a great ballplayer. Rylan hit .400 last season and led our team with 25 extra base hits.”

Michel will be joined by classmate Jack Edwards, an all-conference and all-district selection in 2023.

“Jack Edwards is a catcher who has batted in the middle of our lineup the last two seasons,” Hughes said. “He’s the guy we count on to drive in a bunch of runs for us and also control our pitching staff. We look for Jack to be one of our leaders offensively again this season.”

Juniors Jackson Gamble and Colin Kelley return to the Nixa pitching staff. Gamble was an all-conference and all-district selection last season, while Kelley received all-district honors.

“Jackson Gamble and Colin Kelley are two pitchers who were in the top of our rotation last year,” Hughes said. “We expect them to lead us on the mound.”

Juniors Caeden Cloud and Wyatt Vincent, all-conference and all-district performers in 2023, round out Nixa’s returning core.

“Shortstop Caeden Cloud and center fielder Wyatt Vincent are two great baseball players who have played almost every game since they were freshmen,” Hughes said “We expect them to lead us at the top of the lineup again this season. They are very talented on the defensive side of the ball and play two of the most important positions on the field for us.”

Hughes also expects a host of varsity newcomers to compete for playing time and round out Nixa’s pitching staff.

“There are several guys we are looking forward to seeing step up this season,” Hughes said. “We need to fill several innings on the mound, and we are expecting Nate Uber, Alex Thomason, Drew Creed, Elijah Adams, Carter Fangrow, Cameron Miller and Grady Eoff to compete for those opportunities. All of these guys have played a ton of baseball at a very high level, so we expect them to make the transition to varsity ball pretty quickly.”

On the mound, the Eagles will look to Gamble and Kelley to anchor the staff, while additional arms develop and settle into supporting roles.

“We have two of our top three starters in our rotation back, and they will be counted on to lead our pitching staff,” Hughes said. “We graduated a lot of innings on the mound though, and we will need several guys to step up this year. We have a bunch of really good pitchers, we just need to do a good job getting them innings early on to gain confidence and get experience.”

For our top four guys in the lineup, this will be their third season playing together. They’ve gotten a lot of experience playing together, and they are comfortable with each other. We are counting on some guys to step in who have got experience last year, but we need them to be everyday guys now.

At the plate, Hughes believes team speed, experience and chemistry throughout the lineup will pay big dividends this season.

“Our biggest strength is our team speed,” Hughes said. “We put a lot of pressure on people because of how well we run. As soon as we get out of the box our main goal is to put as much pressure on the defense as possible. We are counting on some guys to step in who have got experience last year, but we need them to be everyday guys now.”

Following a March 9 jamboree in Rogersville, Nixa opens its season March 15 in Long Beach, Calif. against LaMirada.

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