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After winning just two games the previous season, last spring’s edition of the Richmond Spartan baseball team improved its win total by 5 on the way to a 7-10 overall mark and a 4-5 showing in the Missouri River Valley Conference.
Coach Brandon Quick sees even more improvement as the team gets ready to take the field Monday at Warrensburg to lift the curtain for 2009.
“ I really feel we should finish with a winning record and be part of deciding the conference title,” he said. “Our district is really tough, but I feel we could beat any of those schools if we are at our best on that day.”
Quick has three seniors, four juniors and seven sophomores working out and they are joined by 13 freshmen to give the Spartans a lot of depth. Although he likes having the depth, Quick adds that there are some areas of his team that will be inexperienced.
“Our biggest strength is our depth and competition for time on the field,” he said. “We will be starting a lot of young players. I expect we will make some youthful mistakes from time to time. Hopefully when they occur, they won’t be too costly.”
Returning seniors are Jordan Smith, Eric Moses, who will be at first base and pitch in relief, and Kyle Ash at third, who is expected to be a run producer. Underclassmen back for the Spartans include Caleb Benhardt, Reny Reis, Jake Vandiver, Trevor Nichols, Colby Bowles, Branden Evans, Zach McGill, and Corey Adkison. Although their exact positions are not settled, all of them saw a lot of varsity action last season and will be counted on again this spring.
“I really expect our pitchers to make a huge turn this year,” Quick said. “Branden (Evans) and Trevor (Nichols) should have successful seasons. Also newcomer Josh Isgriggs is expected to lock down some wins. We also have more depth at pitcher so we shouldn’t have to lean on our starters as hard.”
Quick adds that the Spartans have been doing a lot of work on hitting in order to help support the pitching arms.
As with most spring sports, teams are at the mercy of Mother Nature. Quick is hoping that She is kind enough to let his infielders get plenty of time outside.
We work on defense as much as possible in the spring but, as everyone knows, the weather makes that difficult,” he said. “Ground balls just aren’t the same off of turf or a gym floor. However, we are lucky to have the facilities we do, and that should put us in front of teams that don’t.”
Quick sees the race in the MRVC East to be wide open in its first season with Carrollton and Lexington among the top challengers.
“I expect us to be right in the middle of everything,” he said. “We should be fun to watch.”
The seven-year Spartan coach adds that the early workouts have been going well.
“Practice has been a pleasure and I am really proud of each and every young man on the team,” Quick said. “They are honored to be Spartans, and want to make our community proud of them.”
PHOTO: The Spartan baseball team took advantage of the warm weather this week to get outside and work on their defense. Shortstop Colby Bowles (left) takes a relay throw from second baseman Kyle Carroll (right), who received the throw from right fielder Jake Vandiver (center). (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)