|
|
|
Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • LEVI PAYTON: Area baseball is thriving

  • If you’re a baseball fan, living in Newton and McDonald Counties can’t be a bad thing. Professional baseball fans in the area are mostly within an hour drive from the Tulsa Drillers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Springfield Cardinals. If you’re into amateur baseball, you can find some of the top talent in the state, both on the collegiate and high school level, right here in the area.
    • email print
  • If you’re a baseball fan, living in Newton and McDonald Counties can’t be a bad thing. Professional baseball fans in the area are mostly within an hour drive from the Tulsa Drillers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals and Springfield Cardinals. If you’re into amateur baseball, you can find some of the top talent in the state, both on the collegiate and high school level, right here in the area.
    College talent
    Crowder College: It’s been written about before, but the 2014 Roughriders put together one of their best seasons the program has had since going to the JUCO World Series and taking fifth in the country in 2010. That’s saying something, too, as the Roughriders earned the No. 1 ranking in the nation for the first time in school history in 2013.
    But unlike that 2013 team, the 2014 version grabbed some ever-elusive hardware by bringing home the Region 16 Championship for the first time in four years. They went on to fall two wins shy of a district crown and a return trip to the World Series, but gave themselves plenty to build on entering 2015.
    Two of Crowder’s top performers in 2014 were drafted in the MLB Rule 4 Draft — left-handed pitchers Mark Reyes and Sam Hilliard — and former Roughrider Jalen Beeks, now at the University of Arkansas, was picked in the draft, as well.
    Speaking of former Roughriders, fans might have a chance to grab a glimpse of 2013 Roughriders’ staff ace Preston Tarkington on national television, as he and his Ole Miss Rebels qualified for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Tarkington is a pitcher on the Rebels’ staff.
    In other news for the Roughriders, freshman catcher Blake Wilfong recently won a JUCO Gold Glove Award for his stellar play behind the dish this season. Wilfong also was named Defensive Player of the Year for Region 16, while Reyes was named all-region at pitcher and Ryan Lazo earned all-region honors.
    Prep talent
    Neosho: While their season didn’t end the way they’d hoped with a loss in the first round of districts to the eventual champion Willard Tigers, the Neosho Wildcats turned in their best win total in some time with a 17-8 finish, including a 5-2 record in the Central Ozark Conference. After going 8-15 in 2012, the Wildcats went 16-9 in 2013 before finishing one game better at 17-8 overall this season and were the runners-up in the COC.
    Two of those Wildcats are currently showcasing their talents on summer travel teams, with senior-to-be Jayce Parmley having just finished play in the Junior Sunbelt Classic — coached by Neosho coach Donny Pennington — in McAlester, Okla. Meanwhile, Crowder College commit Trey Turner is playing with one of the nation’s premier summer travel teams again — the Midwest Nationals. Parmley highlighted his tournament by striking out nine and allowing two earned runs in six innings against Team Oklahoma in the tournament this week.
    Page 2 of 2 - This high school season the Wildcats won the Mickey Mantle Classic in Commerce, Okla. They also continued to expand their youth program from seven teams in 2011 to 11 teams in 2014 with over 140 kids playing travel baseball.
    The Wildcats also performed well in the classroom, with three players — Chris Paullus, Alec Gorham and Parmley — each earning Academic All-State honors. The trio joins Seneca’s Zach Horine and Brayden Larson, who were Academic All-Staters in Class 4, on the list. As a team, the Wildcats maintained a 3.356 GPA — good for fifth on the list.
    Also of note, former Wildcat standout Alex Wise is headed to the University of Oklahoma where he’ll play baseball for the Sooners next season after putting together two fantastic years at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, Okla.
    The best of the rest
    While they couldn’t re-capture the magic of their district championship run in 2013, the Seneca Indians had plenty to be excited about this year — especially with the experience so many of their young players earned on the diamond. They fielded two of the top seniors in the area in all-conference and all-district performers Payton Rawlins and Dalan Merriman, both of whom are headed to college next season.
    The Indians also landed the aforementioned Horine and Larson on the Academic All-State team. Meanwhile, head coach Chris Yust has again been invited for the 11th year to help guide some of the top baseball talent the United States has to offer, as he’ll return to Cary, N.C., as a Taskforce Member for the USA Baseball Tournament of Stars.
    The Indians also landed two players, Rawlins and Merriman, on the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4 West senior all-star team that will compete this weekend in St. Louis. Pennington will coach the Class 5 West team.
    East Newton, Diamond and McDonald County all showed solid improvement this season and finished with good seasons under their belt. Diamond, headed by coach Nathan Cook, and East Newton (Shawn Trent) both showed marked improvement, and finished well above .500. McDonald County also turned in a solid campaign, finishing 10-14 overall — including a district tournament win over Seneca — under head coach Nick Martin and is currently back on the diamond with the Legion season underway.
    The Patriots finished the year with a school record 13 wins, going 13-7 overall. They landed two seniors on the MHSBCA all-star squad in Pate Powell and Rocky Liveoak. Diamond had a great year at 16-5 overall, defeating Southwest in the district tournament before falling in a close game to Clever in the semifinals. The Wildcats landed Gavin Brines, Zach Renfro and Jordan Divine on the MHSBCA Class 3 all-star team.
    Each team had numerous all-conference and all-district selections this season, which have been highlighted in previous editions of the Daily News. So again, if you desire to watch some quality baseball, a short drive in any direction should help satisfy your craving.

        calendar