Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured from left to right are the senior members of the EA-WR baseball team: Bryce Bazzell, Blake Weishaupt, Luke Wells and Cody Blacklock. Not pictured is senior Blake Marks.
East Alton-Wood River baseball coach Kyle Duncan feels this year’s team will benefit from the experience earned last year.
The Oilers lost just one senior last year off of a team that finished with a 5-32 mark.
“We have a lot (of experience),” Duncan said. “This year we’ll start one senior, one junior and the rest are sophomores, but I think that the sophomores are ready to go, so it should be the start of a couple of successful years.”
Coach Duncan feels the Prairie State Conference will be competitive this season.
“There’s some good ball clubs (in the conference), he said. “I think we have a chance to compete and win the thing. I think if our pitching holds up and our young sophomores compete like I think they can, we have a shot.”
Senior Blake Marks returns as a pitcher and he’ll be the Oilers No. 1 in the 2016 campaign. Luke Wells, also a senior, will be the team’s No. 2 and junior Christian Hunter slides in at No. 3. Marks, also a basketball player, averaged close to 25 points per game this year.
“He’s just as good at baseball as he is at basketball,” Duncan said. “He hits .479 for us last year and led the team in home runs (2), triples (3), doubles (12) and RBIs (29). He’s one of our key leaders.”
Like Duncan, Marks feels that experience will pay off this season.
“Last year, we were pretty young,” Marks said. “This year, we’ve played more and we’ve matured. We won’t make as many mental mistakes on the field. The errors killed us early on last year.”
Senior Blake Weishaupt will catch this year and senior Lukas Westbrook and junior Christian Hunter will share time at first base. Sophomore Ashton Murray will play second base and Marks and sophomore Tyler Hamby will split time at shortstop. Zaide Wilson will serve as the third base.
In the outfield, senior Cody Blacklock will play left field while Justin Engler and Bryce Bazzel will play center. Wells will play the majority in right field. The Oilers’ defense performed well in early practices, said Duncan.
“In the first couple of weeks of practice, I’m really impressed with how they’re playing,” he said. “Last year, we could never rely on our defense, but this year we’re looking a lot better. Defense was a lot of our problem last year.”
Marks was EA-WR’s top hitter last year. However, the team returns more than one capable offensive weapon, as Weishaupt hit over .300 last year. Duncan also credited Hamby and Wilson for playing well at the plate last season. Duncan feels the work ethic has improved in the last year.
“It’s 100 percent better, the kids are dedicated,” he said. “We had open gyms at the end of the basketball season and we had 23 kids hitting the batting cage.”
Tyler Bress will serve EA-WR as pitching coach and Dave Murray will serve as hitting coach. Derek Forsting, Doug Booten and Devin Spurlock will also serve as assistants in the baseball program.
The Oilers were scheduled to open the season on Tuesday vs. Greenville and then play host to crosstown rival Roxana on Thursday. They next battle Wesclin in a double header at 11 a.m. Saturday at EA-WR in a non-conference affair.
Bryce Bazzell OF
Cody Blacklock OF, P
Blake Marks 3B, SS, P
Blake Weishaupt C, 1B
Luke Wells OF, P
Chandler Eckhoff OF, 2B
Tyler Hayes 2B, OF
Christian Hunter 1B, P
Jacob Vassos 1B
Justin Englar OF, C, P
Tyler Hamby SS, P
Hunter Hall OF, P
Ashton Murray 2B, C
Zach Wells OF, 3B, P
Luke Westbrook 1B, P
Zaide Wilson 2B, 3B, P
March 19 — vs. Wesclin (DH), 11 a.m.
March 21 — at Valmeyer, 4:15 p.m.
March 22 — vs. MELHS*, 4:30 p.m.
March 26 — Breese Central (DH), 11 a.m.
March 28 — vs. Columbia, 4:15 p.m.
March 29 — at Mater Dei, 4:30 p.m.
March 30 — vs. Mount Olive*, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 — at Freeburg (DH), 11 a.m.
April 4 — vs. Jersey, 4:30 p.m.
April 5 — at Nokomis*, 4:30 p.m.
April 6 — at Cahokia, 4:30 p.m.
April 7 — at CM, 4 p.m.
April 8 — at Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 — at Red Bud (DH), 10 a.m.
April 12 — vs. Brussels, 4:30 p.m.
April 16 — at North Greene (DH), 11 a.m.
April 18 — vs. Valmeyer, 4:30 p.m.
April 19 — vs. Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 — vs. Carlinville, 5 p.m.
April 25 — at Marquette Catholic*, 4:30 p.m.
April 27 — vs. Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
April 28 — at Gillespie, 4:15 p.m.
April 29 — at Carlyle, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 — at Roxana, 4:30 p.m.
May 4 — at Carlinville, 5 p.m.
May 5 — at Carrollton, 4:30 p.m.
May 6 — vs. Marquette Catholic, 4:30 p.m.
May 9 — vs. Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m.
May 11 — vs. Litchfield, 4:30 p.m.
May 12 — vs. Bunker Hill*, 4:30 p.m.
*Denotes conference games