With no postseason or finish to the high school baseball season, Smithville still technically sits as the defending Class 1A state champion.
Smithville coach John Harris was dealing with a young team after the graduation of seven starters the year before but was looking forward to grooming his own lineup in the hopes of another deep playoff run.
“We had played seven games and were sitting at 3-4, and I thought we were having a pretty decent spring so far for the fact that we had to prepare with barely ever having gotten on the field,” Harris said. “We got on the field one time in and out, and for the most part we practiced on the football field and in the cages. I thought we were playing .500 ball and trying to figure out who we are, and getting into playing some games. Our pitching was doing well, our hitting was starting to come around in the last couple of games and we were starting to find the identity of what we could do.”
The Seminoles were still working many different players in and out of their lineup after having lost so many starters from the season before.
“It was still going to be several games before we could figure out what we were doing and before we completely ironed out our rotation, lineups, batting order and positions,” Harris said. “We were never really able to pencil in who was going to play where, and at the same time, the coaching staff was getting to know the players without seeing them very much on the field. We were starting to see who could do what, and our younger players who were going to get some opportunities in big games didn’t get those. We have to depend on them next year to hopefully they can step up and be the guys for us.”
While their team was young, Smithville also had another large group of seniors with eight total.
“We did have a lot of seniors, those guys who experienced the championship runs and knew what it took,” Harris said. “We expected some of those guys to really step in and be a big part of the run we were going to make this year. Now they are gone, and we are going to have to depend on players who haven’t had a lot of opportunity to play in a real high school game, which is tough.”
Harris thought the Seminoles were going to have pitching be a strength once again.
“They were stepping up early, which was big for us,” he said. “Peyton Nanney, Dayton Hitt, Remington Dabbs, Presley Keebler and Dyllan Moffett were all guys who were carrying us on the mound because our offense was a little behind. They started to hit it as a group though with Jordan Wardlaw leading us in hitting along with Dayton and Dyllan. Defensively, we moved people around a lot but were playing well considering that fact.”
Harris thinks the future is bright for his team with the young talent they are molding and even more coming up next year.
“Our younger guys had the chance to see a great group of seniors who knew what it was like to win a championship and saw how they practiced and played hard every day. We have a great group who wants to work hard and get better, and as long as we do that, we will be as good as we want to be,” he said. “I’m excited about that and about our versatility with a lot of players we have for next year and the different things they can do. We also have a lot of eighth-graders coming up, and they are very competitive and want to learn. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do as well.”
The baseball team is currently working out with the football team since most players play both sports.
“We have to take some time to get in shape and physically get them ready to go out there and practice the way that they need to,” Harris said. “We have to use our time wisely because we share kids with basketball and football, so we all have to work together.”