2024 Spring Preview: Cassville Baseball


By Derek Shore (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

Fresh off its winningest season since 2016, Cassville baseball looks to take the next step in 2024.

The Wildcats, who went 12-18 a year ago, will be led by a pair of all-conference performers in juniors Evan Butler (shortstop/pitcher) and Bodee Rose (center fielder/pitcher).

Butler hit a team-leading .400 with 40 hits, 18 stolen bases and 11 RBI last season while logging a 3-3 record with a 1.78 ERA on the mound. Rose batted .330 with 36 hits, two home runs, 22 driven in and swiped 18 bags while going 4-4 with a 1.77 ERA.

“Evan played shortstop for us last year and is a guy the players look up to,” Cassville coach Shawn Trent said. “He has a lot of experience and is a guy who makes everyone around him better. He led off for us last season. Last year he was nursing an arm thing, so we didn’t get to use him nearly as much on the mound. We hope to see him more this season and he could be our go-to guy on the mound.

“Bodee played center field and hit 3-hole for us last year. He is very athletic, fast and has a strong arm. Bodee led our team in several offensive categories. He also pitched very well and is another guy we will use in the rotation.”

Senior Hunter James (outfielder/pitcher) proved to be another key piece for Cassville last season. He posted a .351 average and drove in 13 runs at the plate while gaining significant experience on the mound.

“Hunter is a left-handed pitcher and did a wonderful job for us at the end of last year,” Trent said. “He pitched in some big games, including the district semifinal. Hunter did a great job at the plate and was a tough out for anyone. He can get on base in many different ways. When he doesn’t pitch, he will play outfield for us.”

Senior Danny Roper (infielder/outfielder), junior Simon Gates (catcher) and sophomore Colton Roark (designated hitter/utility) are also returning starters.

“Danny is an athletic kid and a hard worker,” Trent said. “He is a guy who helps us in a number of ways. He sometimes runs the bases, he can play the outfield, he can play third base, he can catch and he would get pinch hit opportunities. We would like to find him a more permanent role this season, but knowing the kind of player he is, it’s nice having someone like that who can do everything.

“Simon is one of our leaders. He is solid behind the plate and does a great job with our pitching staff. He came through for us in several games at the plate and kept getting better throughout the season.

“Colton was a really athletic freshman last year. You don’t typically have freshman that can step up in the moment and play at the varsity level with other 18-year olds. He was

our DH for us most of the season. Being a freshman, I thought he did a tremendous job. He is also fast and has a strong arm. He will be competing this year for a regular spot.”

Seniors Dakota Bowen (infielder/outfielder), Cadyn Smith (infielder/pitcher), Joseph Reuter (infielder/outfielder) and CJ Rose (pitcher) all look to contribute.

Top newcomers are freshmen Easton Hughes (first baseman/outfielder/pitcher) and Masin Bryan (infielder/pitcher).

“Easton is a freshman and may have more experience than even some of our juniors and seniors,” Trent said. “He comes from a baseball family and with his experience and skills could compete for a job early. He is a left-handed pitcher, who can hit and play defense. We are looking forward to seeing how he will mix in with our returning group.

“Masin is another freshman the coaches, and I are keeping an eye on. He is a guy that could earn time. Watching him in the summer he has a lot of ability. He has a really strong arm and looks very comfortable in the field. He primarily plays shortstop with his summer team and can pitch as well.”

Trent, entering his second season at Cassville, is certainly eager to get the season underway.

“We have such a great group of players,” the coach said. “It makes things so much easier when you have the buy-in from them. They are very hard working and want to win. Our biggest strengths will be our athleticism and experience. We have six returning starters. Although only two of those returners are seniors, we have a lot of younger guys who earned playing time last year. Our freshmen played JV baseball last spring and many of them played on the same summer teams together over the years. I think this will be a very experienced group of players.

“Our expectation is to improve on last season and find consistency in our play. Last year’s group showed that if we are playing well we can compete with anyone. Last season was the first time Cassville had won a district game in eight years. We would like to take it a step further and make it to the championship game. I believe this group is capable of doing that.”

Cassville is in the Clever jamboree with Ash Grove and Gainesville on March 8. The Wildcats host McAuley Catholic on March 15 to open the season.

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