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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

Sikeston hopes its dominance carries over into district

Sunday, May 18, 2003

(Photo)
Sikeston's baseball team received the top seed in the Class 3, District 1.
DEXTER - The Class 3, District 1 baseball tournament starts tomorrow at Dexter's West City Park. Here is a look at each team in the district, as seeded:

The two-time defending district champion Bulldogs enter the tournament with a 12-game winning streak.

The team has posted its best regular season win/loss record in school history and are the prohibitive favorites to capture a third straight district title.

The Bulldogs will open district play tomorrow against No. 8 seed Perryville at 4 p.m.

"We cannot overlook anybody," said Sikeston head coach Kevin Self. "Perryville may be seeded eighth, but I've seen their teams that were seeded low before and they weren't bad. They'll bring a good club in."

As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting a sizzling .388, while the pitching staff has a collective earned run average of 1.64.

The Bulldogs are led by returning first team all-stater Blake DeWitt who has put together another banner year. He is batting .478 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. He is one home run and three RBIs shy of tying the school records. He also has 12 doubles, two triples, 16 walks and 33 runs scored. Also putting together a big offensive year is junior catcher Jacob Priday. He leads the team with a .529 average, with six home runs, 26 RBIs, 13 doubles and 27 runs scored.

Junior outfielder Nathan Eaves follows up with a .448 average with four home runs, 18 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

Junior pitcher Lance Rhodes is considered the staff ace. He is 5-1 on the season with a 2.28 earned run average. He has thrown 43 innings and has 53 strikeouts and 17 walks with six complete games.

DeWitt is 8-0 on the season with a 1.23 ERA. He has 53 strikeouts, nine walks and five complete games in 40 innings of work.

Sophomore Cullen DeHart has been an effective No. 3 pitcher, having thrown 30 innings and given up just two earned runs for a 0.47 ERA. He is 6-0 with 30 strikeouts and six walks.

The Bulldogs are 5-0 against district teams including 8-1 and 4-2 wins against No. 2 seed Notre Dame.

Sikeston's closest game was a 12-11 win against No. 3 seed Dexter. In that game, the Bearcats were ahead 11-9 with two outs and nobody on and were one strike away from winning before the Bulldogs rallied to pull out the victory.

"People think that just because you won it two years in a row and you've had a really good year then you're already penciled in," said Self. "And there's nothing automatic. I've seen a lot of teams ranked in the top 10 get beat our in their district because they overlook people. It will be a very disappointing year if we don't win our district. We'll have a very bad taste left in our mouth if we don't come out and play well."

Notre Dame enters the tournament having played one of the toughest schedules in the district. The Bulldogs are coming up a 5-3 loss to Class 3 No. 4 ranked North County on Thursday and are riding a high of emotion.

Junior outfielder Matt Wulfers has the most dangerous bat with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs to go with his .353 average.

Senior catcher Kyle Diveley is one of the best in the area. He also bats .370 with 19 RBIs.

Senior outfielder Dustin Tatum also has pop in his bat with three home runs and 16 RBIs with a .368 average. Senior first baseman Matt Smith is hitting .357 with 22 RBIs.

Junior hurlers Blake Urhahn and Lee Essner are the top two pitchers.

Essner is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA with 50 strikeouts and six walks in 44 innings.

Urhahn is 1-2 with a 3.88 ERA. He also is a strong hitter, batting .370 with 21 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

The Bulldogs went to the Class 2A Final Four last year where they finished third.

Notre Dame was bumped up to Class 3 after the private school multiplier was put into effect.

The Bulldogs will play No. 7 Fredericktown at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Bearcats started the season on fire before slipping some late in the year.

Dexter is the only team in the district that had Sikeston on the ropes. The Bearcats, with nobody on base, were one strike away from defeating the Bulldogs before collapsing in the bottom of the seventh to lose 12-11.

Dexter head coach Brian Becker is hoping the close game with Sikeston will boost his team's confidence.

"I hope it does," said Becker. "We're hitting the ball well right now and that's what it takes to beat a team like Sikeston. You have to try to out-slug them. I haven't seen a pitcher, other than the kid at Bluff, that's really throttled their bats. You have to try to hit with them and that's a tough thing to do with the pitching they have."

The Bearcats went 3-3 versus district teams this season.

Senior Matt Burnett is the team's top hitter, batting .389 with 14 RBIs, 21 runs, one homer and 11 doubles.

Senior Willie Dooley has hit .364 with three home runs, 18 RBIs and 24 runs scored.

Senior Mack Taylor leads the team with four home runs and 19 RBIs to go with his .360 average.

Taylor has also put up the top numbers on the pitching staff with a 6-1 record and a 1.98 ERA.

Josh Miller is 3-1 with a 4.56 ERA but he has logged the most innings with 43. He has 42 strikeouts and 15 walks.

"Adding Notre Dame to our district just makes it a lot tougher on all the teams," said Becker. "Since Sikeston has been in 3A they've pretty much had a stranglehold on our district. They had a good battle last year with Kennett for the title and I think their team's even better this year. There's no question that Sikeston is the team to beat. It's going to take an outstanding effort to beat them."

Dexter will play No. 6 New Madrid County Central on Monday at 6 p.m.

The Indians started the season 0-4 and hit rock-bottom at 3-9 before turning it on to win eight of their last 10 games.

After putting out perhaps its best season in school history last year, the Indians have struggled to find quality pitching and strong defensive play this year.

Kennett is 2-2 against district foes this year, including a 3-2 win against Dexter.

Ben Foster leads the team with a .459 average. He has 30 hits, 13 RBIs, 13 stolen bases and 22 runs scored.

Hunter Butler follows up with a .402 average and 30 RBIs. He had three home runs, 25 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

Jeremy Lyons enters with a .375 average, 10 RBIs and 22 runs.

Senior outfielder Matt Thomas, who has already signed with Three Rivers Community College, is hitting .365, with two home runs, 11 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.

"We've been playing better the last two or three weeks, but we're still making too many errors on defense," said Kennett head coach Bart McAtee. "That's really what's held us back all year long. If we can shore that up in the next week then I think we'll able to compete."

Steven Riggs is the team's top hurler with a 4.37 ERA and a 4-1 record. He has 32 innings logged with 24 strikeouts and 15 walks.

Foster is 2-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 30 innings. He's struck out 22 and walked 10.

Kennett will play No. 5 Doniphan on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Doniphan is one of the biggest unknown teams in the tournament having not played a single district opponent.

But that doesn't scare head coach Steve Ivie, who has led the Dons to an 11-4 mark this year.

"I think we match up well with Kennett and if we win we've got Sikeston in the second round," said Ivie. "Sikeston is without a doubt probably the class team in Southeast Missouri and maybe Missouri period. So it would definitely be a challenge for us in that second round."

The Dons boast highly touted pitcher Joe Conger, who has a 4-2 record with 68 strikeouts and a 2.30 ERA in half a season of work. He struck out 15 Twin Rivers batters in a 6-1 win.

Kendall Carner and Von Smith are the other top pitchers.

Greg Cosgrove leads the team with a .498 batting average with 28 runs scored, 17 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

Carner leads the team with three home runs while hitting .386 with 14 RBIs.

Jonathan Wilson is batting .468 with 12 runs, 14 RBIs and 10 steals.

"Our district is really like a state playoff when you look at the teams in there," said Ivey. "When you start talking about having Sikeston, Kennett, Notre Dame and Dexter, it's probably the toughest district around."

The Eagles have struggled somewhat due to a punchless offense that has a team batting average of .199.

But the team has shown capabilities of performing well, including its tie with Oran where they took the Class 1 top-ranked Eagles nine innings before it was suspended.

"In this district anything can happen," said NMCC head coach John Jones. "Dexter had Sikeston on the ropes and they let them get away. Dexter's beaten us twice but it's hard to beat a team three times. We're going to give them all they want and we're going to play as hard as we can."

NMCC is led by freshman Jordan Kimball with a .314 average five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Ben Pyles is hitting .291 with five home runs and 13 RBIs.

Ben Stricklin is the team's top hurler with a 3.67 ERA. He has thrown 42 innings with 43 strikeouts and 20 walks.

Kimball has thrown 33 2/3 innings with a 3.54 ERA with 35 strikeouts and 20 walks.

The Blackcats are another unknown team in the district, having played just Notre Dame among district foes.

"This will be our fifth year going down," said Fredericktown head coach Scott Sikes. "It's been tough every year and now they've added Sikeston and Notre Dame to make it even tougher. It's as good a district as there is around the state. It's going to take some top-notch baseball to win it."

The Blackcats play in the tough Mineral Area Conference. Joaby Sikes leads the team with a .469 average, including two home runs and 15 RBIs.

Josh Skaggs is hitting .367 with six RBIs.

Skaggs has logged the most innings on the pitching staff with 65 1/3. He is 4-7 with a 3.54 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 23 walks.

Kyle Tesreau is 2-3 in 33 2/3 innings with 43 strikeouts and 23 walks.

"We're not quite as bad as our record," said Sikes. "We've played a lot of young kids and we lost some games on some unearned runs. Our conference up here is pretty tough and we play a pretty good schedule. But we're not going to blame it all on that. We feel like we're playing better and we hope to come down and be competitive."

The Pirates enter the tournament 0-2 versus district opponents. The team was scheduled to play Fredericktown on Thursday but it was rained out.

Second baseman Jason Prousser leads the team with a .400 average and two home runs.

Centerfielder Tim Winningham bats .300 at the leadoff spot. Rodney Sadler follows up with a .375 average, six RBIs and two doubles.

On the mound, Nathan Laurentius is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA while Winningham is 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA.

The Pirates entered last year's district tournament as the lowest seed but took No. 2 Kennett to the wire in a 9-8 loss.

So Perryville head coach Dennis Glueck isn't ready to concede anything.

"I know Sikeston's real good even though I haven't seen them play," said Perryville head coach Dennis Glueck. "I have no idea who I'm going to pitch against them. We're going to have to play well and play good defense to give them a good game."