Webb City is one of the hottest teams to start the prep baseball season, opening the year with a 10-1 record.
The Class 5 No. 3-ranked Cardinals have won five straight games, and their offense has been a well-oiled machine during that stretch, averaging 13 runs per game since April 2.
“We have a really good senior class and a good junior class that backs them up,” Webb City coach Flave Darnell said. “I’m glad we are off to a good start. It’s a tribute to the kids and their athletic ability.”
The Cardinals are led by five seniors who have signed to play college baseball — Matt Woodmansee (Labette Community College), Shane Noel (Crowder College), Cole Gayman, Treghan Parker and Eli Goddard who all signed at Missouri Southern.
And then there’s also leadoff man Devrin Weathers, who has signed to be a running back at Kansas State next fall.
“They have been great,” Darnell said. “They have been great leaders. Being with those guys, we knew they were talented. We knew coming in we had a lot of guys that are tough outs. Our pitching is coming along. We have Cole and Noah Mitchell. We have some good juniors that can back them up and Eli. We felt like we had a pretty good chance to be successful this year with their leadership, commitment and work ethic.”
On top of the seniors, there are 10 juniors listed on the roster.
Webb City’s rotation stacks up with Gayman, a hard-throwing right-hander, anchoring the top of the rotation. The 6-foot-3 righty Mitchell, a ground-ball machine, stabilizes the middle of the rotation.
Gavin Stowell, Kaylor Darnell, Eric Fitch and Noel have all received starting nods. Cooper Crouch, Jeremiah Leaming and Goddard have contributed out of the bullpen.
The top of the Cardinals lineup has been consistent so far this spring. Weathers leads off and Parker sits in the two-spot. Woodmansee and Noel have been the main middle-of-the-order bats for Webb City, while Gayman and Goddard have hit fifth and sixth.
Aidan Brock, a designated hitter, has hit seventh frequently with a combination of Fitch, Leaming and Kaylor and Cy Darnell receiving at-bats near the bottom.
“We have been playing really good defense,” Coach Darnell said. “We are really tough outs. We are not striking out. We are putting the ball in play. We can run, so we put a lot of pressure on defenses. It’s nice to see that when you get a guy on, you have a chance to steal a base. We have been coming up with big hits at those times. Our pitching has been competent. Our pitchers have been attacking hitters. We have been picking it up on defense. We had a great weekend and then had a great start to this week.”
Up next is a matchup with a familiar foe in Joplin (8-2) to open the Central Ozark Conference slate. The Cardinals host the Eagles at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Chuck Barnes Field.
While Darnell hasn’t looked ahead to district, he feels confident about where his team is at this spring.
“We are just trying to get better each day,” the coach said. “We hope we are in a position to be successful when the playoffs come.”