Neosho baseball celebrates new field, wins first game

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

The Neosho baseball team won their first game of the season on Mar. 31 against powerhouse St. Mary’s Colgan from Kansas, but not before the program had an Opening Day Ceremony to celebrate their new turf field complete with batting cages and warm up areas for pitchers.

The new signage behind the home dugout at the new Roy B. Shaver baseball field at the junior high athletic complex.

Former Superintendent and field namesake, Dr. Roy B. Shaver, and current Superintendent and former player, Dr. Jim Cummins, spoke to the fans with members of the 1976, 1981 and 1992 teams also in attendance for the ceremony. 

1976 was the first year of the program and 1981 and 1992 both reached the state semifinals, those three teams were recognized before Shaver and Joe Fowler, coach of the 1992 state semifinal team, threw out ceremonial first pitches.

Relocated from the high school to the athletic complex at the junior high to make way at the high school campus for a Performing Arts Center and End Zone Facility, the new field has already been beneficial with would be canceled games to start the season able to be rescheduled and played at Neosho on the new field.

Neosho Superintendent Dr. Jim Cummins, pictured left, speaks to the crowd in front of former Neosho players at the Opening Day Ceremony on Mar. 30, 2021.

Cummins thanked all those involved from those on the committees helping guide the project through a pandemic to the donors to the developers and builders.  

“When we were going to move the field and it was determined it was in our best interest to move away from (the high school), I went to Dr. Shaver and said, ‘hey, we’re moving your field, are you okay with that?’” said Cummins before handing the mic to Shaver. “And in just his way he said, ‘whatever’s best,’”

Former Neosho Superintendent, and field namesake, Dr. Roy B. Shaver, speaks to the crowd at the Opening Day Ceremony on Mar. 30, 2021.

“In your wildest dreams, would you ever imagine Neosho would have a baseball field this nice?” Shaver asked the crowd at the end of his speech before a yell of, ‘play ball!’

Cummins then introduced Fowler, who was his coach at Neosho when he played baseball, and told the crowd they couldn’t have thought of anyone better to help kick off the ceremony than the coach that led the program to two final four appearances in the state tournament. 

Fowler gave his respect and appreciation to his former players in attendance as well as the ones that weren’t able to make it, thanking them for the hours they spent keeping the field in good condition and practicing honing their skills

“Neosho high school baseball has come a long way since the mid 1970’s,” said Fowler. “We started with an all dirt infield. Our outfield was the practice football field. We would take buckets of dirt and on a wood box, with a metal screen over it, and we would sift the dirt into a wheelbarrow to keep rocks and debris off the field. They would take buckets, gloves, rakes and shovels to their positions and manicure and maintain it the best they possibly could. Not only for themselves but for the players that came after them. With time, improvements were made.”

Former Neosho Baseball coach Joe Fowler, pictured center, speaks to the crowd in front of some of his former players at the Opening Day Ceremony on Mar. 30, 2021.

Before the first pitches were tossed, Fowler turned towards the home dugout and spoke to the current players.

“I would challenge you players, the class of 2021, and those that follow, do not take this facility for granted,” said Fowler. “Remember those players who came before you, who worked their butts off to maintain their field and make it the best they could. Work hard in practice, make yourself the best payer you can become and when games like this present themselves, play as hard as you can and remember every inning of it and enjoy it. No matter how much you give to the game, it will give you so much more in return. A lifetime of memories and stories you can share with each other and remember.”

Neosho went on to earn their first win of the season, 10-4, in an exciting game that saw Neosho’s bats heat up while their defense kept Colgan at bay.

Neosho got out of a bases loaded jam in the second and fourth innings with no runs allowed.

A squeeze bunt brought from sophomore Eli Zar brought home the games first run in the second inning.

A run batted in (RBI) double from junior Lane Yost and a fielder’s choice from senior Ryan Cargile made it 3-0 after three innings.

In the fourth inning, Neosho would load the bases with a two-run single from senior River Brill making it 5-0 before Cargile looped a double into right field two batters later with the bases loaded again to make it 7-0. A walk with the bases loaded later in the inning made it 8-0.

Colgan would score four runs in the fifth inning but Cargile hit an infield single in the bottom of the fifth to make it 9-4 and the final run to make it 10-4 in the bottom of the sixth inning was a deep double to right field from senior Jose Ortega that brought home senior Wyatt Keplar from first base.

In the top of the seventh, Zar would catch a runner stealing for the first out and a 1-6-3 double play ended it for Neosho’s first win.