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Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015

MHS grad big part of college team's success

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enjoy the ride. Former All-State standout Spenser Witt hits a single during the NJCAA Region 16 Tournament in Joplin last week. Witt hit .315 with a .490 on-base percentage for Crowder College in Neosho this season. [Photo by Levi Payton]
At 5'7", 140 pounds, Crowder College baseball player and former Monett standout Spenser Witt is the anti-Billy Butler, if you will. Unlike the Royals' designated hitter, Witt isn't portly or right handed and opposing pitchers rarely mistake him for a home run basher when he steps to the plate.

Perhaps that's why unfamiliar onlookers seemed shocked when Roughriders skipper Travis Lallemand had Witt penciled in as the designated hitter during the NJCAA Region 16 Tournament last week in Joplin.

Like Butler, Witt's talent shines through when the bat is in his hands.

Last minute instructions. Crowder slugger and former Monett graduate Spenser Witt (left) listens to instructions from first base coach Rob Vessel during last weeks NJCAA Region 16 Tournament in Joplin. Witt is the son of Leonard and Tina Witt, of Monett. [Photo by Levi Payton]
It would be unfair to assume Witt has no defensive value -- he recorded 18 outfield assists without committing an error this season. But with a logjam of talented outfielders, the Roughriders determined the DH role was the best option to squeeze Witt's .315 batting average and .490 on-base percentage into their lineup.

One of the bright spots in the 'Riders lineup during the tournament, Witt helped lead them to the championship game, where Jefferson College prevailed, 8-6. On the season, Witt clubbed three doubles, had 13 RBI and scored 30 runs. He swiped six bases in eight attempts and had 23 hits and 23 walks in 73 plate appearances. He also was hit by two pitches.

A 2010 graduate of Monett High, Witt was an All-State outfielder as a senior. He is the son of Leonard and Tina Witt, of Monett. He spent spent his first collegiate season at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout but transferred to play for Lallemand's NJCAA Division 1 Roughriders this season. It's a move he says he never regretted.

"I was at C of O last year, and then I came to Crowder," Witt said. "I love it so much more, I mean, (playing) 60 games is unreal. I got lucky. There wasn't many other schools I would have been more interested in going to at the time.

"Coach Lallemand is probably one of the best coaches in the area," Witt added. "He's taught me a lot of things, and I feel like I've gotten a lot better from last year."

While Witt improved as a player, it would have been tough for him to duplicate his high school numbers. Under coach Michael Calhoun, Witt led the Cubs to a 16-7 record as a senior, which included a district title. He hit .456 that season with a staggering .639 on-base percentage.

The Cubs also won a district crown his freshman year with Adam, Witt's brother, manning shortstop.

"It was kind of a Cinderella story," Witt said of his high school career. "We won the district title my freshman year, and it was the first one in school history. Then we won it again my senior year, and I was the only senior on the team."

Witt says he's just one of a number of talented siblings. Adam went on to Missouri State, and younger brother Jarred recently signed to play basketball at Ozark Christian College in Joplin. Younger siblings, Hunter and Cameron, are just reaching high school.

"There's a couple more," Witt chuckled. "The youngest one will probably be the best athlete. We'll see what happens. It keeps my parents moving. They go to a lot of games and never get enough of it."

As for Witt, he's not sure what the future holds. He says he's had some interest from four-year schools, though nothing is imminent at this time.

"I'd like to go (play) somewhere," he said. "I think the big thing right now is that a lot of the four-year (schools) are just winding down, and they're starting to come out a little bit. I've talked to a couple of schools, but no offers or anything yet. It'll probably heat up a little bit here before long and I'm sure coach (Lallemand) will help me."

For now, Witt's content to let his numbers do the talking.

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