Meadowdale makes offensive improvement top priority | Baseball

Mavericks’ pitching, defense look solid
Mar 08, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Meadowdale’s Will Schafer returns at shortstop and will be the Mavericks’ leadoff hitter this season.

The Meadowdale baseball team isn’t scheduled to start the regular season for another week, but head coach Bill Hummel and his players already have a pretty good idea of what they think is going to be the key to the team’s success.

The major question the Mavericks faced the last two seasons is whether they could score any runs. The answer was not very many and not coincidentally, Meadowdale missed out on the district tournament both years.

“We’ve really struggled at the plate,” Hummel said.

Meadowdale scored three runs or fewer in 13 out of 19 games. Part of the problem was the wet weather, which limited the Mavericks’ opportunities to face live pitching at practice.

The relatively drier weather this month is helping the cause, as is a renewed emphasis on hitting.

“We have lots of cage work,” Hummel said. “We’ve dedicated more practice time to offense.”

The Meadowdale lineup should have more power than in recent years with players, such as senior Travis Hagen, senior Tommy Dimmock, and sophomore Cutter Buchea. Senior shortstop Will Schafer, who will lead off, said that getting the little things right is important.

“We start with getting guys on base,” Schafer said. “We really struggled with that last year. I think we’ve got guys who can drive in some runs. It’s putting the whole offense together – the short game, bunts. It’s getting our 3-4-5 hitters with guys on base ready to go.”

Hagen agrees that Meadowdale’s success likely will be determined by its bats.

“If we can hit, I think we can beat any team in the league,” said Hagen, a three-year starter at catcher. “If we perform as I know we can, I think we’ll be in the playoffs.”

As much as Meadowdale’s offense struggled last season, the flip side was that the pitching staff did its job well and then some. The Mavericks allowed two or fewer runs in 10 games.

“Our team ERA was under 2, the best in modern school history,” Hummel said.

Dimmock and senior Aaron Chester are both returning starters, who are coming off strong seasons, Hummel added. “Both of those guys proved to be solid strike throwers. We’re counting on each of them to eat up a lot of innings.”

Also back are seniors Anthony Toyne and Nate Monillas. Schafer also could see some time on the mound.

“I feel we have a good pitching staff this year,” Hagen said. “We’ve got good depth.”

Meadowdale’s defense also is solid with Hagen behind the plate, Schafer at shortstop, Toyne at third base and Buchea at second base.

“We’re solid,” Hummel said.

For Shafer and the rest of the seniors, the last two years were frustrating and they are determined to advance to the district playoffs.

“That’s really important,” Schafer said. “It’s been our goal since we started this year. A couple of years it hasn’t really worked out. It’ll be really important for our senior class to make districts and see where it takes us from there.”

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