By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Mother Nature has been downright stubborn when it comes to Webb City visiting Ozark this season for a high school baseball game.
Well, they are going to try again today.
This time, rather than a test in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division, it’s a sectional game in the MSHSAA Class 4 playoffs.
Starting time is 6 p.m.
Cardinal fans planning to make the trip, however, should call Webb City High School to verify the starting time.
Said Ozark coach Mike Essick: “There’s a chance we could push the starting time up. Both teams, of course, have to agree on a new time. But we may play earlier than 6.”
Webb City, runner-up in Class 4 last season, and Ozark have 20-5 records. Ozark has a 15-game winning streak and logged a 7-6 win against Kickapoo, another hot team, to capture the District 11 Tournament.
Webb City coach Chris Taylor said the first meeting with Ozark was postponed on April 21.
“They (the Tigers) were at bat in the bottom of the first inning in that first game,” Taylor said. “We had retired one batter but they had the bases loaded (before the game was washed out).
“The second time, it was postponed the day of the game, before we left for Ozark,” Taylor said.
“The third time we were there and we tried to wait out the weather,” Taylor said. “We didn’t get a chance to play.”
Probable starting pitchers for today’s game — regardless of the starting time — are senior left-hander Tyler Burgess for Webb City and junior right-hander Landon Snyder for Ozark.
Burgess, an all-stater last season, authored the 11th shutout of his career by checking Willard 2-0 on three singles last Tuesday night.
Said Essick of Snyder: “Landon really has come on. He’s found his confidence and has turned into a different pitcher. We thought he could perform that way. He’s maybe won his last five decisions.”
Essick said the top five batters in the Ozark lineup — all seniors — have sparked the Tigers offensively this season.
They are shortstop Andy Westfall, second baseman Mike Headlee, first baseman Blake Martin, third baseman Kyle Jochems and right fielder Cody Holzer.
“They’ve been the mainstays,” Essick said. “Jochems, I believe, has seven or eight home runs. Martin (who’s headed for Jefferson College of Hillsboro (Mo.) and Westfall have four or five apiece.”
Taylor listed the usual batting order with Burgess hurling:
Senior center fielder Scott Roderique, junior shortstop Breckin Wiliiams, Burgess, senior receiver Nate Ervin, junior first baseman Gage Belcher, junior left fielder Klay James, senior third baseman Derek Mann, senior DH Jeremy West for sophomore second baseman Austin White and senior right fielder Richie Peoples.
The Webb City-Ozark winner faces Lebanon or Wentzville Timberland in the quarterfinals.