by Mark Cheffey
There won’t be a rebuilding mode for the PHS baseball team following a lost season in 2020.
Numbers are strong from top to bottom, and excitement and competition abound for the Panthers to make a run for the playoffs this year.
Yes, Coach Mark Loman is busier trying to figure out what his players are made of, but he believes the ingredients for success are there.
“We are going to pick up right where we left off,” said Loman, who indicated the team has a “great mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen who are working very hard” and has “solid pitching.”
Part of the good news is there are 11 returning upper classmen from which to build the team’s nucleus.
However, with no baseball last year, the actual varsity experience is thin.
“We have only two players back who have much varsity experience,” Loman said.
Loman will be depending upon a group of upper classman that include seniors, Bennett Stice (P, 1B), Zane Meyers (infield); Brody Lehenbauer (OF, P); Chance Davis (P), Wade Begley (IF, P) and Quade Plunkett and juniors, Alex Wilson (OF), Landyn Smith (IF, P), Brayden Shannon (OF), Nolyn Richards (P, IF), Alex Loman (C, IF) and Adam Goodwin (OF, P).
Backing them up are 16 underclassmen eager to earn playing time, including sophomores, Drew Comer (IF, P), Jon Lundberg (C, OF), Ryan McKeown (OF) and Weston Ragar (IF) and freshmen, Colby Cook (IF, P), Alex Davis (OF, P), Joshua Hathaway (C, IF) Zeke Meyers (IF), Austin Nowell (C, OF), Rayce Ragar (IF, P), Ethan Tallman (IF, P) and Tyler Zeiger (OF).
“Our coaches are very excited about our numbers,” Loman said.
The lost season does present some challenges for the team.
“It’s mainly a lack of on-field, varsity experience for our guys,” Loman said, who expressed optimism the upperclassmen will quickly return to the flow.
“Our seniors this year would have played a huge role on our varsity team last year,” Lomans said. “We have a great group of both juniors and seniors and a lot of balance with numbers in each class.”
As always, much will depend on how good the pitching is, and Loman believes there is potential for it to be a strength, starting with Stice, who earned all-district and first-team all conference honors as a sophomore in 2019.
“He will anchor a pretty good group of guys who will all have different strengths on the mound,” Loman said.
This year’s schedule is much the same as from seasons past with the exception of Quincy High School, which is being replaced by Kirksville, and Quincy Notre Dame, which is off the schedule now but could be picked up later in the season.
If anything, the last year’s lost season has resulted in a higher anticipation level for this year.
“I do think there is an extra level of excitement due to losing a season,” Loman said. “I am sure that same excitement will be for every school out there that was in the same boat last spring.
Also, a lost high school baseball season did not mean the loss of summer ball.
“Fortunately, several of our upperclassmen still were able to get some summer baseball in even though they missed the high school season,” Loman said.
Matt Thomas returns as an assistant coach this year. Serving as volunteers are Jeff Cissna and Kody Asquit, who is student teaching in the elementary school this semester.
“It is great to have four coaches working with our guys,” Laman said. “This will give our players a lot more individual attention.
“We are very excited and are fortunate to have each one of these individuals as they all bring different personalities, knowledge, and perspective to the team.”
3/13 at Hannibal Jamboree
3/20 at S.Boone(Cluster) TBA
3/23 Elsberry 5 p.m.
3/25 Canton 5 p.m.
4/1 at Kirksville 5 p.m.
4/5 B. Green 5 p.m.
4/6 Macon 5 p.m.
4/10 Hannibal Cluster
4/13 at Clark Co. 5 p.m.
4/15 Monroe City 5 p.m.
4/17 at Moberly 2 p.m.
4/19 at Hallsville 5 p.m.
4/20 Highland 5 p.m.
4/23 Brookfield 5 p.m.
4/29 Centralia 5 p.m.
4/30 at Hannibal 5 p.m.
5/1 at S. Call. Cluster
5/3 at Liberty (Ill.) 5 p.m.
5/6 at S. Shelby 5 p.m.
5/7-8 Palmyra Slam