Eagles seek to recapture magic

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Hunter Cook scores a run for Purdy on Monday during a win over Miller. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

Purdy baseball aiming to return to playoffs

Every year, Purdy Coach Joshua Hughes gives the same story about his baseball team.

Hughes says that the team needs to grow. He has holes that need to be filled, and he plays a tough schedule.

Last year, his Eagles soared to a 23-6 record, winning the most single-season games in school history and advancing to the state quarterfinal.

This season, Hughes is already saying he is uncertain about how his team will fair on the diamond, especially against loaded opponents.

“We went 15-2 this fall and expect big things out of our guys,” Hughes said. “We will work hard every day and look to compete at the conference and district levels. With McAuley and Pierce City bringing back everyone from last year, we look at them as the teams to beat in the district and McAuley in the conference.”

The Eagles will be without a few key pieces due to graduation in Isaac Brattin, Dusty Videmschek, Sydney Birge and Jonatan Salazar. That group combined to record 71 RBI and hit a combined .360.

Returning for Purdy are Ricky Aldaba and James Hughlett, seniors; Hunter Cook and Adam Humphrey, juniors; and Kyler Propps and Mason Schallert, sophomores.

Aldaba was 8-1 with a 1.53 ERA as a pitcher last season.

“Ricky earned All-State Honorable Mention last year,” Hughes said. “His only loss on the mound came to Plato in the quarterfinal game. He will be expected to be our number one guy on the mound this spring. He will also take a bigger role in the lineup, and we expect him to step up in the middle of the order.”

Hughlett went 4-0 on the hill with a 2.45 ERA.

“James is the guy, since his sophomore year, at the top of the batting order and in centerfield,” Hughes said. “We expect that to not change. He had a great junior season and expects big things his senior year.”

Cook hit .298 as a sophomore and had 33 RBI on just 24 hits.

“Hunter had a huge year at the plate as a sophomore in the No. 5 hole,” Hughes said. “We expect him to fight for the No. 3 or No. 4 hole this spring. His pitching will be relied on more as a junior. His defense has improved each season and anchors our infield as our shortstop.”

Humphrey hit .333 as a sophomore and drove in 21 RBI.

“Adam started at third last year after playing second as a freshman,” Hughes said. “He will be back at the hot corner. Adam became a big part of our pitching staff this fall, going 6-0, so he will push Ricky for the No. 1 pitching spot and will be a big part of our lineup. He led the team in hitting with a .460 average this fall also.”

Propps will anchor second base this year, and Schallert will see time as the team’s designated hitter.

New to the roster this season are: Chris Ramos, senior; Jose Sanchez, junior; Carl Hughlett, sophomore; and Andrew Martinez and Zane Brown, freshmen.

Purdy opens the season on Saturday at Monett with a 10 a.m. start against the Cubs. The Eagles face Spokane at noon as well.

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