Baseball team works to build off the loss of last season’s seniors

Coaches and players seek to improve the Jaguar baseball team

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Baseball team works to build off the loss of last season’s seniors

Before taking the mound, junior Lucas Krull warms up by throwing a few pitches on Thursday, April 9. “I love [pitching],” Krull said. “It’s what I’m going to college for and hopefully after that I can keep going for my career.”

Before taking the mound, junior Lucas Krull warms up by throwing a few pitches on Thursday, April 9. “I love [pitching],” Krull said. “It’s what I’m going to college for and hopefully after that I can keep going for my career.”

Before taking the mound, junior Lucas Krull warms up by throwing a few pitches on Thursday, April 9. “I love [pitching],” Krull said. “It’s what I’m going to college for and hopefully after that I can keep going for my career.”

Before taking the mound, junior Lucas Krull warms up by throwing a few pitches on Thursday, April 9. “I love [pitching],” Krull said. “It’s what I’m going to college for and hopefully after that I can keep going for my career.”

Lizzie Kulcsar, Braden Shaw, JagWire reporter, JagWire reporter

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After the final out of the 2014 season, the baseball team members looked to regroup after an early loss in the postseason.

Last year, the team had its season end in the regional round against Emporia. Assistant coach Dustin Stinnett saw the positives in last season, but left disappointed by the final result.

“It just so happened that our last game didn’t go well,” Stinnett said. “If one game [happens] where things don’t go your way, which happens all the time in baseball … your season’s over.”

Head coach Jeff Strickland knows this season will be different with the loss of eight seniors from last year’s squad.

“This year’s senior class has to step up and lead,” Strickland said. “We lost a lot of seniors [from last year’s team], seven of which were starters and position players. So that’s hard — not only to replace them as skilled baseball players, but as leaders. Last year’s senior class was a very good senior class in regards to leadership.”

Stinnett is always looking to continue the success of past teams, with three state tournament appearances and a fourth place finish in 2013 in the program’s history.

“The expectations are always the same,” Stinnett said. “Let’s win our conference, let’s win our region and then let’s go place in [the state tournament]. Year in and year out, you have to expect to do great things or they’ll never happen.”

The talent of this year’s team is one aspect that senior outfielder Eli Stewart notices. Stewart and has enjoyed playing alongside this group.

“It’s fun to grow and develop with those guys that you’ve been with for [over] four  years,” Stewart said. “We have a very talented upperclassmen group; we have very good juniors and seniors. In the past we have lacked a strong rotation of starting pitchers but this year we really do have a good one that will hopefully get us through a lot of games.”

Strickland and Stinnett are always seeking a state title, and junior pitcher Brenden Shutt hopes to meet these expectations and keep the team in the correct mindset.

“We’re always keeping the same approach every year,” Shutt said. “Support the team, not ourselves is a big [motto] for us. Kids are going off to college next year and our coach doesn’t want us to be focused on our college when we have to still support the high school team.”

Stinnett sees this season as an opportunity for this younger team to step up and make a name for themselves.

“We have young guys who have yet to prove themselves, which is OK since they haven’t had the opportunity to prove themselves,” Stinnett said. “We have all of the tools necessary to be a really nice club … That’s all just lip-service if there’s no proof to say that we’re good.”

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