Photo by Diane Cox
(Front row, from left) Ethan Johnson, Austin Presley, Christopher Pulley II, Blake Vandiver, Billy Mathis, Zach Golenor, Chance Foss and Sam Mosby; (back row) Adam Moore, Logan Reardon, Joey Ingram, Randy Skiff, SethChester, Josh Rudd, Andrew Webb and Tanner Davis.
Scott Harper is back at Roxana High and he’s happy about it.
No wonder – Harper, 45, a prominent baseball player for the Shells, now is coaching them. He previously guided the Alton Redbirds for two seasons – in 2007-08 – and directed them to a 39-27 record.
“Coaching baseball has been a big part of my life and it’s unique to coach at your alma mater,” said Harper, a 1987 Roxana graduate. “I think a coach always wants to coach at a high school and a community where he grew up. There are lots of connections I have made coming back here.
“It’s a good fit.”
He has an opportunity to guide a revamped Shells’ team that won the Class 2A Metro East Lutheran Regional title last spring. The Shells finished 16-16 and shared the South Central Conference championship with Southwestern and Litchfield.
They figure to be in the middle of things during the conference chase this season and have their eyes on more postseason success.
“It’s a good group of guys, and some of them have had success in other sports,” Harper said. “They are hungry for more and they really love the game.”
He senses the Shells have the ingredients for a quality squad.
“We have the top of the lineup returning and defense should be a strong suit,” Harper said. “We will be replacing the heart of order by utilizing athleticism and team speed.”
He has a top returnee in senior pitcher-outfielder Logan Reardon, who has committed to Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield. Reardon batted .286 and drove in nine runs last season. More
importantly, he was 5-4 on the mound with a 2.37 ERA, including 58 strikeouts in 44.2 innings. Reardon will replace the graduated Nelson Martz as the ace of the staff.
Martz will pitch for his dad, Randy, at Lewis and Clark Community College.
Reardon, also a powerful running back in football and the AdVantage News’ Co-Player of the Year the past fall, said it was a difficult decision to choose between baseball and football for college considerations. In the end, baseball won.
“I really didn’t want to give up football because I love it and it’s my favorite sport,” Reardon said, after signing with the Loggers. “But I really can’t turn down this offer to play baseball.”
Seniors Josh Rudd and Andrew Webb, juniors Chance Foss, Tanner Davis and Ethan Johnson, plus sophomores Sam Mosby and Zach Golenor, also expect to do some pitching.
“We are an inexperienced pitching staff behind Reardon and Rudd, but that will provide opportunities for Davis, Foss, Mosby, Golenor and Webb,” Harper said.
He plans to use junior Billy Mathis behind the plate, with junior Adam Moore or Rudd at first base. Skiff is cast at second base and Foss at shortstop. Senior Joe Ingram, Golenor and Mosby can work in at third base. Skiff hit .341 last year and Foss batted .306.
Senior Seth Chester, Reardon and Davis, along with juniors Blake Vandiver and Christopher Pulley, can fill outfield slots. Vandiver batted .343 with 12 RBIs last season. Chester hit .286. Austin Presley, another junior, is capable of playing infield or outfield spots.
“With Foss and Skiff up the middle and Vandiver leading our outfielder corps, our defense should be strong,” Harper said.
The Shells were set to open their season at home Thursday against rival East Alton-Wood River in a nonconference game. Jersey and Waterloo Gibault are slated to come calling Saturday.
Roxana goes to Columbia (March 25) and entertains Highland (March 27) before opening SCC action at Pana (March 28). The Shells have nine conference games scheduled, but an array of nonleague games, including Marquette Catholic and Civic Memorial.
They are slated to play a twinbill at CM (April 18) and then meet the Eagles again at Busch Stadium in St. Louis a week later (April 25).
A senior for the Shells, Reardon looks to anchor the pitching staff in ‘15. He went 5-4 with a 2.37 ERA as a junior. Reardon will play at Lincoln Land Community College next season.
Vandiver, a junior outfielder, is the best returning hitter for Roxana from last season. Vandiver hit .343 with a team-best four triples, 13 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 2014 for the Shells.
Coach: Scott Harper
Record last season: First year
Career record at school: First year. He was 39-27 in 2007-08 at Alton
Seth Chester, outfielder
Joe Ingram, infielder
Randy Skiff, infielder
Logan Reardon, pitcher/outfielder
Josh Rudd, pitcher/designated hitter
Andrew Webb, pitcher
Tanner Davis, outfielder
Chance Foss, pitcher/infielder
Ethan Johnson, pitcher
Billy Mathis, catcher
Adam Moore, infielder
Austin Presley, infielder/outfielder
Christopher Pulley, outfielder
Blake Vandiver, outfielder
Sam Mosby, infielder
Zach Golenor, infielder
March 19 – vs. EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
March 21 – vs. Jersey, 10 a.m.
March 21 – vs. Waterloo Gibault, 2 p.m.
March 25 – at Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
March 27 – vs. Highland, 4:30 p.m.
March 28 – at Pana*, noon
April 1 – vs. Jersey, 4:30 p.m.
April 3 – at Litchfield*, 11 a.m.
April 7 – at Metro East Lutheran, 4:30 p.m.
April 10 – at Gillespie*, 4:30 p.m.
April 11 – at Dupo (DH), 11 a.m.
April 13 – vs. Bunker Hill, 4:30 p.m.
April 15 – vs. Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
April 17 – at Southwestern*, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 – at CM (DH), 11 a.m.
April 20 – vs. Hillsboro*, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 – vs. Staunton*, 4:30 p.m.
April 23 – at Mascoutah, 4:30 p.m.
April 25 – vs. CM at Busch Stadium, 10 a.m.
April 27 – vs. Carlinville*, 5 p.m.
April 29 – at Marquette, 4:30 p.m.
May 1 – vs. Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
May 4 – at EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
May 8 – at Carlinville, 5 p.m.
May 9 – at Vandalia*, 11 a.m.
May 12 – vs. Red Bud, 4:30 p.m.
May 13 – vs. Greenville*, 4:30 p.m.
May 15 – vs. Metro East Lutheran, 4:30 p.m.
May 16 – vs. New Athens (DH), 10 a.m.
*Denotes conference games