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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Sikeston, NMCC set to square off in district battle

Friday, May 14, 2004

Sikeston's Lance Rhodes
DEXTER - The Class 3, District 1 baseball tournament will kick things off tomorrow at Dexter's East City Park.

The Sikeston Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the state, got the top seed and will open with eighth-seeded New Madrid County Central at noon.

Second-seeded Notre Dame will play No. 7 Doniphan at 10 a.m. to start the tournament.

Other games that will be played, No. 4 Fredericktown will play No. 5 Perryville at 2 p.m. and No. 3 Dexter will play No. 6 Kennett at 4 p.m.

Sikeston will be pitted against a NMCC team that took the Bulldogs to the wire two weeks ago, falling 1-0 with ace pitcher Jordan Kimball on the hill.

But Sikeston routed the Eagles on Wednesday, 12-2 in five innings.

Still, Bulldog coach Kevin Self isn't taking the Eagles lightly.

"We can't look past New Madrid right now, and we're not," said Self. "Kimball threw the ball extremely well against us and we scored one run. So we know what we're up against Saturday. New Madrid with the Kimball kid, we've seen what he can do. Obviously we're favored, but anything can happen with baseball. On any given day, anything can happen."

After last year's disappointing exit in the district finals to Notre Dame, Self said his players have been chomping at the bit to get the district title back.

"Obviously this is what we've worked all year to get to this point because they want another chance. I think what happened last year is motivation enough."

Sikeston enters the district with a 21-1 record, identical to last year's mark entering the tournament.

The Bulldogs' pitching staff has a collective earned run average of 1.37, the best ever under Self.

Lance Rhodes is 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA while Blake DeWitt is 5-0 with a 1.89 ERA. Ross Merideth is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA and Bryce Wibbenmeyer is 5-1 with a 1.43 ERA.

As a team, the Bulldogs are hitting .378.

Catcher Jacob Priday leads the team with a .576 average, clubbing four home runs with 33 RBIs, 37 runs and seven stolen bases.

DeWitt is batting .529 with 11 home runs, 34 RBIs, 41 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.

Nathan Eaves follows up at .448 with four homers, 22 RBIs, 20 runs and eight steals.

Rhodes is batting .418 with three homers, 19 RBIs and 26 runs.

Scotty Keenan, who sat out several games with an arm injury, is hitting .375 with 23 runs and three homers. He's walked a team-high 20 times.

NMCC enters the tournament with a record of 7-10. Kimball has thrown 40 1/3 innings, striking out 47 and walking 24. He has an ERA of 1.21.

At the plate, Ben Pyles leads the way with a .460 average, six home runs and 16 RBIs.

Sophomore Thomas Higgerson follows up at .467 with a homer and four doubles.

Jeffrey Hunter, Kimball and Ryan Lawrence all are batting over .300.

"We've got to go over there with better focus than we did Wednesday," said NMCC head coach John Jones.

"We're going to go over there and give it the best shot that we can. We know we can play better baseball than what we showed. We're a senior-laden ballclub with six seniors so these guys have been there since ninth grade and it's time to put it together."

Defending champion Notre Dame, which enters the tournament with a record of 16-5, is also favored to make it back to the finals.

"The tournament is probably as deep as any year we've been there," said Self. "Everybody's better this year and it's as good a district as we've played in. At Dexter, with that small ballpark, one bad pitch and you can be in a bind in a hurry over there. Because a lot of normal flyballs will leave the yard."