Photo by Bill Roseberry
(From left) Steven Pattan and Steven Nguyen
Todd Haug has high hopes for his Alton baseball team this spring.
The Redbirds return several players from last year’s team that finished 23-13, including senior third baseman Steven Nguyen, senior catcher Steven Pattan and sophomore shortstop Robbie Taul.
“We field a highly competitive team that plays baseball the right way,” the eighth-year Alton coach said. “We return some key members from last year’s team and the expectations are pretty high.”
Nguyen, Pattan and Taul were named on the all-Southwestern Conference team a year ago. Taul was the Redbirds’ leading hitter with a .449 average, Nguyen batted .417 and Pattan hit .351 with 31 RBIs.
Senior Tyler Moxey, juniors Shane Turner, Brandon Droste, Simon Nguyen, Ben Mossman and sophomores Mikey Hampton, Nathan Lemon and Adam Stilts also will see time with the varsity.
Alton was scheduled to start its season on Thursday against Carbondale at GCS Stadium as part of the Metro East Kickoff Classic.
The Alton Redbirds bring back 10 players from last year’s team that finished 25-8 and lost to O’Fallon in the Class 4A Collinsville Regional championship game.
All-conference selections Savannah Fisher, Miranda Hudson, Sydney Hartman and Tami Wong are among the top returners for the Redbirds, who start their season against Greenfield at 11 a.m. Saturday at home.
Alton lost three players, including 2016 AdVantage News Softball Player of the Year Brittany Roady, to graduation.
“We can be as good as we were last year,” AHS head coach Dan Carter said. “It depends on how our pitching comes along. Replacing Brittany will be tough, but we’ll be very strong defensively and very strong offensively. We may not need that overpowering pitching to win a lot of games. If the pitching comes along by the end of the year, we’ll be OK.”
Jeff Hayes enjoyed a successful rookie season as Alton coach last spring.
The Redbirds went 8-0-2 in their first 10 matches and finished 12-6-3. They also quadrupled their win total from ‘15.
Most of the players are back from the ‘16 team, including all-conference selections Annie Evans, Brianna Hatfield, Calista Cox and Alaina Nasello. Hatfield was Alton’s leading scorer with 14 goals and 10 assists.
The Redbirds were scheduled to start their season on Wednesday against Marion in the second round of the Nike Bracket in the Metro Cup.
Seniors Kalen Samelton, Tony Dobbins, Arie Macias and Evan Rathgeb and juniors Kiondray Samelton and Jonathan Bumpers are the top returning athletes for the Redbirds, who will compete in the Southwestern Illinois Relays on March 25 at Edwardsville.
Kalen Samelton won the shot put at the Edwardsville Tiger Indoor Invitational on March 11 at Principia College. Dobbins and Kiondray Samelton will compete in the sprinting and jumping events, Bumpers will compete in the hurdles and Macias and Rathgeb will be the top performers in the distance events.
Jada Moore takes over head coaching duties for the Redbirds, who finished second in the Class 3A state meet last year.
Alton lost its top athlete, LaJarvia Brown, to graduation. She earned all-state honors in four events, including state titles in the triple jump and the 100-meter hurdles.
Brown, a three-time state champion in the triple jump, is now competing for Texas A&M.
The Redbirds return junior Katie Mans, who finished in a tie for seventh in the high jump at state in ‘16. She placed first in the event in two indoor meets this season.
Alton will have a quadrangular meet against Edwardsville, Granite City and O’Fallon on March 22 at O’Fallon.
Silas Chapman and Ryan Kane are among the top returning players for the Redbirds this season.
Chapman, a senior, was a state qualifier in singles in ‘16. Kane, also a senior, earned all-conference honors in doubles with now-graduated Jett Durr.
Alton has a new coach in Brian Schreiber. He takes over for Robert Logan, who passed away Sept. 18 at age 30 after a battle with cancer.
The Redbirds’ boys volleyball program is back for its third season.
Last year, Alton won just two matches, defeating East St. Louis twice. The Redbirds won four matches in their first full varsity season in ‘15.
Senior Evan Meyer is the top returning player for Alton, which starts its season on March 29 against Althoff at home.
Daniel Campbell is back to guide the program for a third year.