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Local baseball teams ready for spring season

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When it comes to the high school fall sports season, three of Wright County’s districts field competitive baseball teams that don’t compete for a district title until the spring season. So they shake off the cobwebs with what is known as “fall ball.” Each of them play around 15-20 games before taking their shot at winning a plaque in the Summit Conference Tournament.

In watching the quality of play coming from baseball programs in Hartville, Norwood and Mansfield this fall, the 2021 spring season could be a special one for any of them.

Hartville went 17-4 in spite of losing those four games before Sep. 21.

After getting crushed by Crane, the Eagles won nine straight games as their pitchers allowed just one run in their last 28 innings pitched.

Hartville’s Brody McNiel had one game where he struck out 18 of a possible 21 batters faced. He ended his season with a 12 strikeout performance to beat Norwood for the conference championship.

A lot of the Eagles recently won a state championship on the basketball court in March. They have a deep pitching staff that also includes Braden Branstetter, Hunter Lowery, Ryce Piper, Eric Wilson, Justin Parker and Kolton Cogdill.

They could be poised to not only make another special run on the court this year, but could find themselves competing for a spot in the Final Four on the baseball diamond as well.

Norwood finished their fall season with a 10-2 record as their last blemish was the loss to Hartville in the conference tournament finals. They beat Hartville in a previous meeting, 8-6.

They have a deep pitching staff with pitchers Garrett Davault, Jacob Sinning, Toby Cottengim, Jalen Drake and Zack Black.

This Norwood Pirates ball club will be sure to make noise in the spring.

I will say the conference championship baseball game between Hartville and Norwood featured some of the best pitching I’ve seen in a while. It was great to see a hard fought baseball game between two of the area’s best teams.

A young Mansfield baseball team nearly beat Licking, did beat Norwood and really improved after their program was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, Mountain Grove, who does not play in the fall, has several quality players who competed in summer ball this year.

They too are expected to make some noise as the Panthers will be ready to get back on the diamond after the spring 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Should be a fun spring.

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