Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured is the 2016 Roxana baseball team. Members of the team include: Ethan Johnson, Chance Foss, Blake Vandiver, Trace Gentry, Billy Mathis, Tanner Davis, Adam Moore, Austin Preley, Jacob Carpenter, Zach Golenor, Brendan Zeller, Cody McMillen, Drew Ratliff, Jacob Maguire, Dakota Stumpf, Chad Mott and Sam Mosby.
When Scott Harper took over as the Roxana Shells’ baseball coach last season, he figured the project was a process requiring development.
He’s maintaining that line of thinking again this spring. The plan is more improvement for Roxana, which went 12-15 last season. The Shells are striving for their first winning season since 2012.
“We’re continuing to build,” said Harper, a former pitcher for the Shells and the Alton High baseball coach in 2007-08. “It was more of a transition season last year. It was my first one, so I got to know the guys and they got to know me.
“And I think we had some success. We tied for third in the South Central Conference.”
Roxana intends to ratchet up that success factor this season, even though ace Logan Reardon graduated. The hard-throwing right-hander, who was 3-5 with a 1.70 ERA on the mound, also hit .329 with 2 home runs and 20 RBIs. Reardon has taken his talents to Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield.
“We lost our top pitcher, but we still should be able to contend again in the conference,” Harper said. “We have some guys with experience, even if our pitching isn’t that deep.”
Senior Tanner Davis, the team’s biggest winner with four victories last season, could lead the way. He was 4-3 with a 5.13 ERA in 2015.
Juniors Zach Golenor, Sam Mosby and Brendan Zeller, along with seniors Chance Foss and Trace Gentry, also expect to log plenty of mound work. Golenor was 3-4 with a 3.72 ERA last season.
Gentry, a standout basketball player, is a welcome addition, Harper said. “He came out for baseball this season after not playing the last two years.”
Foss and senior Blake Vandiver, two athletes that excel in three sports, could be the key components in stirring the Shells. Foss, a shortstop, is heading to Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville and Vandiver, a left-handed hitting center fielder, is bound for Lewis and Clark Community College.
“Both are three-year starters, so we will depend upon them for leadership,” Harper said. “They are working hard and big leadership guys.”
They also fit in nicely at the top of the Shells’ lineup. Foss, who hit .364 with 16 RBIs a year ago, can lead off. Vandiver, a .321 batter in 2015, likely will bat second.
“We have some team speed, and we will have to find ways to create runs because we won’t have a lot of power,” Harper said. “Mostly, we will rely on pitching and defense to carry us and we have some guys that can play pretty good defense.”
Billy Mathis, a senior, will work behind the plate, though he’s recovering from a shoulder injury. Senior Austin Presley and junior Chad Mott also can catch.
Adam Moore, a senior, is set to start at first base. Golenor and junior Drew Ratliff will fit in at second base. Ratliff also can pitch, Harper said.
It’s Foss at short, with Mosby and Davis sharing time at third base. Seniors Ethan Johnson and Dakota Stumpf will divide time with Vandiver and Gentry in the outfield.
“The guys have gotten after it and they are ready to go,” Harper said prior to the Shells’ scheduled opener March 17 at rival East Alton-Wood River. “Our guys like to play and it’s just a matter of finding the right pieces to fit into the puzzle.”
Come Saturday, the Shells are slated to play Waterloo Gibault and Jersey in Jerseyville. Their home opener is March 23 with Columbia and they’ll debut in conference play March 26 by entertaining Pana.
Ethan Johnson OF, P
Chance Foss SS, P
Blake Vandiver OF
Trace Gentry OF, P
Billy Mathis C
Tanner Davis P, INF
Adam Moore 1B
Austin Presley C, OF
Jacob Carpenter OF
Zach Golenor P, INF
Brendan Zeller P, OF
Cody McMillen P, 1B
Drew Ratliff P, 2B
Jacob Maguire 1B
Dakota Stumpf OF, P
Chad Mott C
Sam Mosby P, 3B
March 19 — at Jersey, 10 a.m.
March 19 — vs. Gibault at Jersey, noon
March 23 — vs. Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
March 25 — at Highland, 4:15 p.m.
March 26 — vs. Pana*, noon
March 29 — vs. Freeport, 4:30 p.m.
March 30 — at Jersey, 4:30 p.m.
April 1 — vs. Litchfield*, 4:30 p.m.
April 4 — at Greenville*, 4:30 p.m.
April 5 — vs. MELHS, 4:30 p.m.
April 8 — vs. Gillespie*, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 — vs. Dupo (DH), 10 a.m.
April 11 — at Bunker Hill, 4:30 p.m.
April 13 — at Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
April 15 — vs. Southwestern*, 4:30 p.m.
April 16 — vs. CM (DH), 11 a.m.
April 18 — at Hillsboro,* 4:30 p.m.
April 20 — at Staunton*, 4:30 p.m.
April 21 — vs. Mascoutah, 4:30 p.m.
April 23 — at Freeburg, 10 a.m.
April 23 — Gibault at Freeburg, noon
April 25 — at Carlinville*, 5 p.m.
April 27 — vs. Marquette, 4:30 p.m.
April 28 — at North Mac, 4:30 p.m.
April 29 — at Southwestern, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 — vs. EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
May 5 — vs. Vandalia*, 4:30 p.m.
May 6 — vs. Carlinville, 5 p.m.
May 10 — at Red Bud, 4:30 p.m.
May 12 — at MELHS, 4:30 p.m.
May 14 — at New Athens (DH), 10 a.m.
*Denotes conference games