The Eagles return six starters and their top three pitchers from a team that finished 11-11 last year. East Prairie lost to South Pemiscot in the Class 2, District 1 tournament. South Pemiscot went on to finish in second place in Class 2.
"We return seven seniors to the team," said East Prairie head coach Gary Scott. "The kids have experience and we expect to win."
All-state utility player Taylor White returns for his senior campaign after a stellar junior season. Last year, White batted .484 with five home runs and 31 RBIs which were all team highs. White also led East Prairie with 31 hits, 20 singles and six doubles.
The primary position for White is catcher and Scott believes his bat can cause some problems for the opposing team.
"If Taylor gets hot at the plate," said Scott, "he could carry us for a couple of weeks. He has got a lot power behind his swing and can hit it a mile if he makes solid contact."
Senior Zach Secoy returns as East Prairie's main pitcher after going 3-3 last spring with a 3.45 earned run average. Secoy struckout 69 in 42 innings pitched. Opposing teams only batted .199 against Secoy. Control needs to be addressed for Secoy as he walked 35 batters last year.
At the plate, Secoy was second on the team last season with a .379 average. Secoy also had three home runs, 16 RBIs, was second on the team with 25 runs and stole 11 bases.
Tyler Branam will be counted on to pitch and play the infield for the Eagles. As a junior, Branam won a team high four games with three losses in 44 innings of work. Branam had a 4.07 ERA and struckout 38 with 14 walks. Branam batted .279 last season with 17 RBIs. Branam will most likely play third base when he is not on the mound.
Senior Caleb Hatton will patrol the outfield for East Prairie and will also see some time on the mound. Hatton hit .324 in 2006 with 20 RBIs. Hatton had 22 hits and was second on the Eagles with 12 steals and five doubles.
The third projected pitcher for East Prairie is Jordan Mansfield. Last year, Mansfield was 3-2 on the mound with a 4.20 ERA. Control is also a problem for Mansfield as he had 21 walks in 21 innings of work.
Returning second baseman Perry Lucas is a solid fielder for the Eagles. Lucas hit .288 last year with nine RBIs and scored 17 runs. Mitchell Aters, Cory Borders and Cameron Woodward are also expected to contribute this year for East Prairie.
As a designated hitter, Aters hit .288 in 2006 with a home run and drove in 11 runs.
"The kids have been working hard so far in practice," said Scott. "We have a good group of seniors who are leading with a strong work ethic."
Unlike last year, this season East Prairie will compete in the northern division of Class 2 in the area. The Eagles will compete in District 2 with Kelly, Scott City, Crystal City, Charleston and Chaffee.
The district is wide open with returning champion Valle moving down to Class 2.
"We played South Pemiscot tough last year in districts," said Scott. "It is a tough district in the south, but it won't be any easier up in the north. Kelly is tough year in and year out and Scott City is going to be good this year. It is not like we got any breaks moving to District 2."
East Prairie has won only two district titles in the school's history in 1995 and most recently in 2005. The Eagles have never advanced to the final four and have a career playoff record of 2-2.
East Prairie will begin the season at home against rival Charleston Bluejays March 22 at 4:30 p.m.