The Scotland County baseball program will need to fill a pair of key roles created by graduation in order for the team to try to defend the Lewis & Clark Conference crown it claimed in 2018 and return to the state playoffs in 2019.
Gone are a pair of first team all conference performers in graduates Gage Dodge and Lane Pence. Pence led the squad with a .512 batting average while handling the catching duties. He also pitched 11 innings, including a pair of starts.
Dodge batted .490 and led the team with 10 doubles and 19 runs scored and also posted a team best .569 on base percentage as the team’s #1 table setter. Dodge also started four games on the mound, posting a 4-0 record with 1.615 ERA.
The duo leaves some big shoes to fill for coach Rod Sears. He’ll need to find an arm to fill Dodge’s spot at the front of the rotation while also filling his void at shortstop.
He will have first team all conference performer Will Fromm to lean on both on the mound and in the middle of the lineup. Last year as a junior, Fromm smacked a team high five home runs while batting .346 with a team-leading 20 RBIs. He also posted a team best 0.656 ERA in seven games pitcher, posting a 4-0 mark with a team-high 43 strikeouts in 32 innings of work.
Junior Branton Burrus will look to nail down the #2 starter role. He pitched in six games last year, including the start in the season opener. As a sophomore, the hard thrower fanned a whopping 23 batters in just 11 innings of work, but battled control problems that hampered his effectiveness.
Kade Richmond appeared in three games on the mound as a freshman and likely will have an expanded roll in 2019. Jacob Buford also pitched in four games for the Tigers last year as a sophomore.
Burrus earned second team all conference honors last year. The third baseman batted .327 and was second on the team with 17 RBIs.
Buford was a third-team honoree after batting .259 with 15 runs scored while handling a number of roles on defense including first and second base.
Sears also returns starting center fielder Parker Triplett and first baseman Grant McRobert as well as Brady Curry and Kaden Anders, who saw varsity time in the outfield, along with Richmond as freshmen last season.
The program has not had much help from Mother Nature as the coaches work to sort out new lineups. Cold, wet weather has forced most practices indoors.
The season is scheduled to open on Monday, March 18th with a home game versus Highland, followed by another home game on Tuesday, March 19th versus Canton. The team then hits the road the following Monday to play Knox County in Edina.