Schoch: An early look at the area's top baseball talent

Schoch: An early look at the area's top baseball talent


Schoch: An early look at the area's top baseball talent


As the high school baseball season has opened, it’s now time for coaches across the state to become part-time weathermen, watching storms and forecasting when and if games can be played.

Well, we’re going to do some forecasting on our own today.

Just like we did during basketball season, we are rolling out our inaugural American Family Insurance Preseason All-Ozarks Baseball Team today.

And just like in basketball season, this list is mostly for fun and to provoke some discussion. We expect the postseason All-Ozarks Baseball team to look very different than the one we are releasing today.

Since I’ve been knee deep in basketball coverage lately, I haven’t had much chance to study up on baseball, so I checked with the coaches for a little unofficial input.

Thanks for the help, by the way.

So, here goes:

Our roster breaks down to two players from Rogersville, as Evan Gruener and Justus Boever represent the Wildcats. In addition, 11 players are the lone selections for their schools.

Another important storyline throughout the season will be the impact of the new five-class system on the season. For our list, there are eight Class 5 players, two in Class 4, two in Class 3 and one from Class 2.

Representing the small schools are Chance Wolfe of Clever and Brayton Ballenger of Catholic in Class 3, and Austin Essick of Billings in Class 2.

Also new this year is the site of the state championships, which are May 27 through June 1. Instead of vying for spots at our own Meador Park, teams instead will be hoping to get to O’Fallon’s T.R. Hughes Ballpark.

Four All-Ozarks players from last year are back with their teams and all of them made the list: Payne, Wolfe and Gruener, and Drew Bridges of Carthage.

Other selections include Willard’s Austin Reaves, Republic’s Nathan Strobel, Joplin’s Adam St. Peter, Kickapoo’s Chandler Hall, Parkview’s Landan Ruff and Ozark’s Sawyer Alderson.

Reaves led Willard to state last year, as the Tigers took fourth in Class 4. St. Peter has committed to play football at Missouri State, while Ruff recently committed to play baseball for coach Keith Guttin’s Bears.

There are a lot of changes this year with Missouri high school baseball, and it will be interesting to see how much this list changes this year.

And it will be fun to see how the season plays out and who ends up representing southwest Missouri in… ummm … (I had that written down somewhere) … O’Fallon.

Contact Matt Schoch at 417-836-1191 or Follow him on Twitter at @MattSchochNL.

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