Photo by Diane Cox
The East Alton-Wood River varsity baseball team is (back row, from left) Cole Ford, Jacob Vassons, Justin Englar, Blake Marks, Lucas Wells and Blake Weishaupt; (front row) Tyler Hayes, Brandon Beasleuy, Chandler Eckhoff, Bryce Bazzell, Cody Blacklock and Chris Hamby.
The East Alton-Wood River Oilers’ baseball team heads into their second season under head coach Kyle Duncan. After a rough first year with only four EA-WR wins, Duncan feels his squad will turn the corner with more experience on the field.
“We had a lot of youth last year,” Duncan said. “Even though we’re still pretty young, we only have one senior, but I see our juniors stepping up this year.”
He added: “Last season, we made a lot of youthful mistakes, and it cost us a lot of ball games. This year, I think we’ll see a big difference in how we execute plays in different situations where last year we fell short. We don’t have the situation of guys ages 15 and 16 playing against 18-year-olds.”
The Oilers are junior packed with many returning players having one to two years of varsity experience. With eight juniors topping the lineup, the scale of experience could prove beneficial to the Oilers within the next two years.
“Pitching is going to be tough for us this season,” Duncan said.
“We’re going to have to spread it around a lot. We hope to keep Jake Hei healthy this season. We have guys like Chris Hamby who can step up on the mound and we do have some talented freshmen coming up. They may not be ready for the varsity level yet, but we may call them up at times if needed.”
The Oilers are led on the mound by junior Blake Marks, who has been an active starter since his freshman year on the varsity level. Senior Jake Hei splits his time on the field playing first base when he’s not on the pitcher’s mound as a part of the regular rotation.
Junior Lucas Wells has an opportunity to keep his throwing arm in motion as a pitcher for the Oilers, as well as the varsity quarterback for the football team. Hamby, and injured Cody Blacklock, will fill the holes on the mound for EA-WR. Blacklock will miss a portion of the Oilers’ season with a broken right hand.
“We are a lot deeper this season,” Duncan said. “Last year, we only had one or two guys on the bench, we will still be kind of short, but we are able to go to our lower levels and pull guys up from the JV squad. We really couldn’t do that last year. I feel that this season we can go into any game and I expect we can compete.”
The Oilers kicked off their season on the road at Greenville Tuesday. The Oilers returned home with a 4-0 loss in their season opener with Marks on the mound. EA-WR then traveled to Roxana at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and heads to Wesclin at 11 a.m. Saturday for a doubleheader.
EA-WR’s home opener is at 4:15 p.m. Monday against Valmeyer.
Marks is a junior pitcher for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers and looks to lead the way on the mound. He was a solid hurler and leading hitter for the Oilers as a sophomore.
A junior for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers, Hamby looks to be a key contributor with the bat in 2015. He was a solid hitter for the Oilers as a sophomore.
TEAM: East Alton-Wood River Oilers
HEAD COACH: Kyle Duncan
CONFERENCE: Prairie State
RECORD LAST SEASON: 4-18
CAREER RECORD: 4-18 (1 year)
EA-WR BASEBALL ROSTER
Jake Hei P, INF
Blake Weishaupt C
Lucas Wells P, INF
Blake Marks P, INF
Brandon Beasley IF, OF
Chris Hamby P, INF
Cole Ford INF, C
Cody Blacklock P, INF
Bryce Bazzell INF, OF
Chandler Eckhoff OF
Tyler Hayes OF
Jacob Vassos INF
Justin Englar INF
Hunter Hall OF
EA-WR BASEBALL SCHEDULE
March 17 — at Greenville 4:30 p.m.
March 19 — at Roxana, 4:30 p.m.
March 21 — at Wesclin (DH), 11 a.m.
March 23 — vs. Valmeyer, 4:15 p.m.
March 24 — at Metro East Lutheran*, 4 p.m.
March 28 — at Breese Central (DH), 11 a.m.
March 31 — vs. Mater Dei, 4:30 p.m.
April 1 — at Mount Olive*, 4:30 p.m.
April 4 — at Freeburg (DH), 11 a.m.
April 6 — at Jersey, 4:15 p.m.
April 8 — vs. Cahokia, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 — vs. CM, 4 p.m.
April 10 — vs. Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 — vs. Red Bud (DH), 10 a.m.
April 14 — at Brussels, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 — vs. North Greene (DH), 11 a.m.
April 20 — at Valmeyer, 4:30 p.m.
April 21 — at Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
April 24 — at Carlinville, 5 p.m.
April 27 — vs. Marquette*, 4:30 p.m.
April 29 — at Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
April 30 — vs. Gillespie, 4:15 p.m.
May 1 — vs. Carlyle, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 — vs. Nokomis*, 10 a.m.
May 4 — vs. Roxana, 4:30 p.m.
May 6 — vs. Carlinville, 5 p.m.
May 8 — at Marquette, 4:30 p.m.
May 11 — at Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m.
May 13 — at Litchfield, 4:30 p.m.
May 14 — at Bunker Hill*, 4:30 p.m.
*Denotes conference game