It was only reasonable to assume the production of the Park Hill High School pitching staff might take a considerable step backward this season. After all, the Trojans lost a senior class that pitched more than 80 percent of the team’s innings last season — a group that included all-state left-hander Dalton Moats.
Moats has moved on to a career at Coastal Carolina in Jacksonville, N.C.
Park Hill is still struggling to move on without him. The Trojans suffered a 10-0 defeat by Lee’s Summit West on Monday, their seventh loss in nine games.
The shaky start serves as no surprise considering the Trojans’ lack of experience on the mound. None of the team’s pitchers saw action in more than 15 innings last season when the team reached the district championship game and finished with a 16-7 record
Moats was the driving force behind the success, going 5-0 with a 0.64 earned run average. Those numbers have been tough to replicate.
“We had six pitchers on our radar going into the season, and we hoped that three of them would develop into good varsity pitchers,” Trojans coach Greg Reynolds said. “Every one of them has shown flashes of doing that, but none of them has been able to go long-term, five innings, with all of their pitches working. So it’s still a work in progress.”
While Monday’s loss to Suburban Red Conference opponent Lee’s Summit West was an exception, Reynolds feels his lineup is making progress, with five seniors hitting atop the order — John Balsamo, Ricky Trammell, Conner Bosworth, Caleb Sneed and Dawson Wittman.
The arms, however, are still playing catch-up.
Sneed suffered the loss Monday against a deep Lee’s Summit West lineup that scored four runs in the first inning.
“I’m just trying to keep the ball low and keep them off balance,” Sneed said. “I know against a team like (Lee’s Summit West), if I get the ball up, they’re going to hit it. I have to keep the ball down.”
In addition to Sneed, the Trojans are also featuring Will March, Bosworth and Kyle Francis on the mound.
“We have to have two or three of those guys pick it up and have the cream rise to the top,” Reynolds said. “The two or three guys who are going to be our best pitchers will have to pitch like our best pitchers. That’s going to be our key.”