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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Sikeston ready for Ozark

Thursday, June 3, 2004

The Sikeston Bulldogs baseball team waits for Jacob Priday to reach home plate after hitting a home run against Herculaneum during Saturday's quarterfinal game.
COLUMBIA - The Sikeston Bulldogs baseball team is hoping the third time is a charm when they begin their quest for a state championship tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.

The Bulldogs (26-1) are set to take on the Ozark Tigers (27-4) at Taylor Stadium in Columbia in a Class 3 semifinal game.

It will be Sikeston's third final four trip in four years, as they also made it in 2001 and 2002. But both times the Bulldogs came up short for the state championship, taking second and fourth place respectively.

Sikeston head coach Kevin Self is hoping history will change this year.

"That's been our whole focus all year long," said Self. "We have the opportunity now that we're here. Hopefully things will work out for this senior class because that's completely all that's on their mind. That's all they've focused on from Day 1. I'm just glad they have an opportunity to get back and hopefully have an opportunity at a state title."

The Bulldogs will be taking on Ozark, the same school that beat them in the 2002 in the third place game 11-1 in six innings.

"When you get to this point obviously everybody is a solid ballclub," said Self. "They've won just as many as we've won. They will be very solid and we'll have to play really well to win."

The Tigers have lost four games -- two to out of state teams from Oklahoma and Arkansas and two Blue Springs and Webb City.

Ozark features right-handed hurler Lucas Harrell, who is headed to Southwest Missouri State University. He is 9-1 on the season with a 1.09 earned run average. He has 91 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched and has saved three games.

Harrell reportedly throws in the low 90 mph range.

Self said he is somewhat familiar with Harrell with Blake DeWitt and Jacob Priday playing against him last summer.

"The only thing I really know about them is that their pitching is very good, a lot like North County's," said Self. "The Harrell kid that I assume we will face, Blake and Jake have both seen him and he throws the ball in the low 90s. He will be a handful. Hopefully we'll get some good fastballs to hit. If that happens, I think we can hit them. We've got some guys that can catch up to that if they get the opportunity to see them."

The Bulldogs could also see 6-foot-3, 215-pound lefty Thomas Stilson, who is 10-0 with a 1.11 ERA. He has 74 strikeouts in 56.2 innings.

Senior righty Zane Montgomery is a third pitcher the Bulldogs could see.

As a team the Tigers have a .310 batting average.

Harrell leads the team with a .395 average, clubbing six home runs with 26 RBIs. Stilson is next at .354 with three home runs and a team-leading 30 RBIs.

Montgomery is hitting .322 with 17 RBIs while Dylan Ream is at .317 with two home runs and 22 RBIs.

All statistics are through district play.

DeWitt is scheduled to throw for Sikeston tomorrow. He is 7-0 on the season with a 1.40 ERA. He has 69 strikeouts and 10 walks in 50 innings pitched.

Lance Rhodes will also pitch this weekend. He is 8-0 in 54 innings pitched. He has a 1.56 ERA, striking out 61 and walking 19.

If needed, the Bulldogs will throw Bryce Wibbenmeyer (5-1, 1.43 ERA) or Ross Merideth (5-0, 0.56 ERA).

Sikeston enters the game with a team batting average of .370.

DeWitt and Priday's numbers are almost astronomical. DeWitt is batting .558 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 49 runs scored. He has 48 hits with 11 doubles, a triple and 11 stolen bases


Priday is batting .571 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs. He has 44 hits with 46 runs scored, 11 doubles, a triple and 19 walks.

Rhodes follows up at .389 with four home runs and 23 RBIs. He also has 11 doubles, a triple and 34 runs scored.

Nathan Eaves is hitting .380 with four home runs and 24 RBIs. He also has 18 walks.

Despite missing five games, Scotty Keenan is at .339 with three home runs, four doubles, two triples and 29 runs scored. He leads the team with 24 walks.

Cullen DeHart and John Robert Bizzell also check in over the .300 mark.

Bizzell is at .327 with four doubles, two triples and a home run. DeHart is batting .323 with two home runs and 23 RBIs.

Ross Merideth (.286) and Richard Landers (.235, 17 RBIs) round out the order.

"I think we'll play pretty loose and I think we'll be ready to play," said Self. "If they're better than we are, then hats off to them. We're going to hit them with everything we've got and hopefully that'll be good enough. If not, then so be it."