The bright side of having just two seniors on the roster is that you will have plenty of opportunities to give younger players a chance to play.
That was the case for the Morrisonville/Lincolnwood co-op baseball team this season as 27 different players saw the field in varsity competition during the 2019 season.
That youth also resulted in some growing pains, as the Mohawks went 7-19 overall, with five of their seven wins coming in conference play.
While they are few in numbers, the senior class will be tough to replace as Andrew Skinner and Dade Pitchford were key pieces to the team. The pair were among the four players who played in all 26 games for the Mohawks and were among the team's leaders in several statistical categories.
Skinner was the team's ace, drawing the toughest assignments as he led the team in appearances (14) and innings pitched (43.2). While his record was a deceptive 2-8, his ERA showed a much stronger pitcher as he posted a 3.85 earned run average with 31 strikeouts and 17 walks.
Skinner also helped himself at the plate, batting .357 with 30 hits (tied for the team lead), five doubles and 18 runs scored. He also walked six times and had eight stolen bases in nine attempts.
Pitchford would share the hits lead with Skinner, with seven doubles, two triples and a home run to his credit. A .395 hitter for the season, Pitchford also led the team in RBIs with 22 and scored ten times.
The duo, who both attended Lincolnwood and earned first team all-conference honors from the MSM Conference coaches, will be greatly missed both at the plate, and in Skinner's case, on the mound.
Of the underclassmen, only Shawn Goebel and Sam Herman played in all 26 games, but seven others played in 16 or more. Goebel was the Mohawks' regular shortstop and batted .227 with 13 runs scored, while Herman batted .292 with 12 RBIs and seven runs scored. The Lincolnwood junior also led the team in stolen bases with nine in ten attempts.
Evan Hopper would see his season halted at times due to injury, but was a terror at the plate when healthy. Another Lincolnwood junior, Hopper batted .476 in 42 at-bats, driving in 14 runs and scoring 15 times for the Mohawks.
Coaches Mark Ferrill and Josh Stone will rely on those three to be the core of next year's offense, but they'll need some help from others like Grant Jones, Dalton Thomas, Jhadyn Walker, Jhett Walker and Isaac Ferrill, all of whom got valuable varsity experience in 2019.
Morrisonville also has a solid group of young hitters coming up through the ranks as the Mohawks' "Red" team, essentially their JV team, batted .291 as a team. That group includes Braxton Schmedeke (.406), Cade Bethard (.355), Wyatt Spurgeon (.312), Colton Tischkau (.282), John Wolf (.308) and Will Jenkins (.308), among others who showed some skill with the bat in the younger ranks.
On the mound, the Mohawks have some options in replacing Skinner. Kyle Bloome threw 29 innings and tied Skinner for the team lead in wins with two. He finished the season with a 6.03 ERA, 24 strikeouts and 24 walks.
Hopper pitched in 17.1 innings and also had two wins, allowing 16 earned runs, while striking out 21 and walking nine.
Wyatt Spurgeon was stellar in his first year on the mound at the varsity level, allowing just five earned runs in 21.2 innings for a 1.62 ERA. He also struck out 20 and walked six. If he can keep up those numbers, he could have a big season in 2020.
Michael Jones (19 strikeouts in 20.2 innings) also saw extended time on the mound for Morrisonville, while John Wolf was impressive in limited action, with 14 strikeouts in just eight innings.
That group, along with others, has potential to help the Mohawks reclaim the success that they have had in the past.