By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
While the spring season was canceled, Webb City’s baseball program did not stop them from getting any games in 2020.
The Cardinals played in eight tournaments and a total of 40 games last summer, which helped second-year head coach Flave Darnell get a feel for his team.
“We feel like the summer season really answered a lot of questions, maybe we were going to go into this year,” Darnell said. “We were lucky enough to do that.”
Darnell, who is in his 17th year as head coach, went 268-133 in 15 years at the helm of Carl Junction. He took a job at Webb City and spent a year as an assistant before taking over for Garry Highfill after the 2019 season.
With no season last spring, Darnell is still waiting to train his first high school game at Webb City.
The Cardinals have been one of the strongest teams in the area for many years now. They have put out six winning seasons in a row and won district championships in four of the last five. They went 17-12 in 2019 and lost in the section round.
Webb City returns three starters from the 2019 season in seniors Treghan Parker, Devrin Weathers and Cole Gayman.
Parker was a first team Central Ozark Conference infielder and also received awards from across the district. He hit .420 with four doubles, four triples and 34 total hits while driving in nine races. He is likely to start short-term this season and has already signed with Missouri Southern to continue his baseball career.
“He had a fantastic sophomore season and he had a really good junior summer,” Darnell said. “He continues to get stronger and better. We expect that he will strike in the middle of the order for us. We expect great things from him. ”
Weathers has signed to play regularly back in Kansas State, but is also a prominent outside player. He was a district player as a freshman and hit .346 with 10 stolen bases. He returns to midfield and hits the top of the order.
“He has obviously committed to playing football in K-State, but he is excited for this coming season and we look forward to a fantastic year,” said Darnell.
Gayman achieved COC honors in other teams as a pitcher and was another all-district honoree. He went 7-2 with a 2.33 ERA as a sophomore. He wants to be the team’s front line starter and should play second base when he’s not on the mound. He could also tackle first base. Like Parker, he’s on his way to Southern to play baseball.
“He’s recovering from an injury and he’s looking good this season, looking strong,” Darnell said. “He was able to get healthy this summer and had a good year as a quarterback in football. It’s good to get him back healthy and play sports.
Webb City returns a fourth senior postman in Shane Noel, an infielder and pitcher. He plays third base when he is not pitching. He hit four doubles two years ago.
“He’s a real athletic boy, runs well and throws well,” said Darnell. “Good pop in his bat. We expect good things from him this year as well. ”
Noah Mitchell, Eli Goddard and Matt Woodmansee are three more seniors who had “fantastic” summers and want to be big contributors. Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 pitcher who played junior varsity in 2019, but has impressed Darnell so far and turns out to be the team’s No. 2 starter.
“He’s a big right-handed kid, throws hard and keeps improving,” he said.
Goddard could see time on the catcher or first base and surprised the coaching staff with his pitching ability in relief last summer. He’s probably a hard thrower with good command.
Woodmansee is to play in college at Labette Community College in Parsons, Kansas. He should be Webb City’s right fielder and strike near the top of the order. He can run well and has a good arm.
There are more juniors who want to push for time as well. Gavin Stowell is a left-handed pitcher who looks like the team’s No. 3 starter. Cooper Crouch could earn time at first base, and will pitch as a hard-hitting right. Eric Fitch is a versatile player who can play in outfield or infield. Aiden Brock will be the team’s designated hitter and can also catch. Jeremiah Leaming was able to pitch and play left field. Cade Wilson is a fast outfield player who is recovering from an ankle injury; he could play on the left when he was back in April.
“We still have some question marks in a few areas about where people can go when certain people throw,” Darnell said. “If certain people do not hit, who is next; Things like that. We definitely have some question marks, but it’s a good solid senior class that we’m really looking forward to starting to play. ”
Webb City is hosting a jamboree on Friday 12th. March with Carl Junction and Republic. The Cardinals open the regular season of the Lael Leadoff Classic in Branson and will play in the Springfield Red / Blue Tournament in early April. They travel to St. Louis in April to play Columbia Rock Bridge and Francis Howell in a double header.