Maryville baseball is coming off of a less than stellar 2018 campaign where it placed fourth in the Midland Empire Conference.
There were four seniors that graduated last spring; coach Carson Riedel praised their ability to lead on the field. The Spoofhounds will search to find a way to replace that experience lost from last season in this year's senior class.
Coming into the season with a hefty amount of upperclassmen and a senior class that sits at nine athletes, the ‘Hounds are primed to find new leaders in a loaded senior class. Maryville is returning six of their seven MEC awardees with Jake Woods being the lone graduate among the group.
“Losing Jake was a tough one for us because of the versatility he brought to the team,” Riedel said. “We lost a good amount of experience in the infield this past season, but I think we will be able to fill those holes and get the production we want.”
Though the Spoofhounds appear to be without a true group of leaders at the moment, Riedel expects that to change as the season starts. That does not mean Riedel has not seen signs of his players starting to step into those leadership roles.
Riedel explained how it will not harm the team because the group has plenty of experience they just have to realize it.
“We are bringing back a lot of guys this year, which puts us ahead of most teams in an experience aspect,” Riedel said. “We have got quite a big senior class this year, which should prove useful to the younger guys on the team. The chemistry these guys have built together will really benefit us later on in the season.”
The Spoofhounds have some key pieces returning in seniors Tyler Houchin, Payton Schieffer, Tyson Arnold, Creid Stoecklein and Adam Becker. Houchin leads the team with a .350 batting average last season on his way to being named second-team All-MEC. All of these players were named to an All-MEC team in 2018.
“We are bringing back a good group of guys,” Houchin said. “I think we can really build off of last year and try and compete for first in the MEC. We have established what we can do, now we just have to go and do it.”
The Spoofhounds look poised to make a jump in the conference standings this year with such a grizzled group of vets returning for them. As they prepare for the season, expectations have been raised in terms of the team's success. The team set a goal to take first place in the MEC this season.
“We kind of all just came together as a team and felt it was time to take the next step,” Arnold said. “That is when somebody said something about the MEC title, and we all came together and agreed.”
With the beginning of the season rapidly approaching March 18, Maryville is prepared to face a longtime foe in Savannah. Riedel emphasized the importance of coming out of the gates strong. The ‘Hounds will aim to prove that their goals are not unattainable and they are just out of their reach by getting off to a hot start this season.