(Photo by Josh Mills, Staff)
The Oran Eagles baseball team is looking to hit the ground running in the 2008 season, after finishing up the 2007 campaign with a 24-5 record. Last season, Oran came up just shy of a Final Four bid, losing to Valle Catholic in quarterfinal action.
Head coach Mitch Wood comes into his 16th season with the school, and has seven seniors on this year's squad.
Seniors Tyler Beardslee, Kody Campbell, Steven Dooley and Caleb Seyer lead the charge for the Eagles.
Dooley is coming off of junior season where he batted .474, with 36 hits, 26 runs scored and 27 RBI.
Beardslee racked up the most RBI for Oran, 42, while batting .442, with 42 hits, which was also the most on the team.
Seyer led the team in runs scored with 45, as well as homeruns, finishing up the year with eight, while Campbell was second in runs scored with 40, and third in hits with 35. He finished the season batting .368.
On the hill for the Eagles, seniors Alex Chasteen and Dooley return with plenty of positive experience from 2007.
Dooley threw 46 innings, giving up 12 earned runs for an ERA of 1.83, recording 61 strikeouts.
Chasteen threw 35 innings, with 10 earned runs and an ERA of 2.00. Chasteen had six wins, while Dooley had five.
Wood was unavailable for comment, so assistant coach Larry Boshell gave insight on the 2008 season.
"We always look to win the district," said Boshell when asked about the overall outlook on the season. "We always try to advance to the state tournament."
Since 1998, the Eagles have been to the state tournament six times, finishing second three times, and third three times. Their last trip was in 2006, where they finished third with a victory over Silex 6-4.
Although Oran lost some of their quality pitching and hitting to graduation, Boshell said that it will give way to opportunities for their younger players to shine.
"We want our kids to stay the course and improve every day," said Boshell. "We need them to step up and be team leaders in order for us to achieve our ultimate goal of winning a state championship. Our young kids have to take advantage of opportunities when they arise."
Aside from the five players already mentioned above, senior Cody Dirnberger, and juniors Jayden Pobst and Jake Carter are returning starters. Senior Alex Daniel and sophomore Kody Dirnberger also have potential to make the starting lineup.
Boshell said that the season is tough from beginning to end. "We don't overlook anybody," he said. "The next game we have is the toughest one."
A few of the difficult opponents that the Eagles will be up against are Scott City, East Prairie, Chaffee and Kelly in the Scott-Mississippi Conference. District opponents include Bernie, Leopold and Bell City.
Oran will be involved in the Scott County Tournament and the Stoutland Tournament in 2008.
"We expect to win the district," said Boshell. "We have to be prepared for everyone's best effort, as they are all gunning for us. We have high expectations because these kids have grown up watching this team win, and they want to continue the tradition."
The Eagles will work on the continuation of the winning tradition, as they begin their season Wednesday at home against Leopold. The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.