ALLEMAN — Wins and losses. These are typically the two most useful tools for determining where a team stands in a given year. In the case of the Collins-Maxwell/Baxter baseball team, wins and losses were thrown out the door early on. The Raiders got off to a rocky start to the year in the wins column of the standings, and afterfinishing the season in the first round of district playoffs on Saturday, their final record held at 1-22. East Marshall took down the Raiders, 8-0.
Freshman Brady Stover pitched well, but was let down by his defense to a degree. He surrendered each of the eight runs, but none of them were earned. Errors piled on, and a few walks by Stover here and there compounded the situation for the Raiders. Stover managed to last five and one-third innings, giving up two hits and five walks. Where the Raiders can get excited was that Stover picked up 13 strikeouts in his time on the mound.
Stover was relieved by senior Zach Hartgers, who finished off his pitching career at CMB by pitching two-thirds of an inning without allowing a runner to reach base.
East Marshall freshman Nick Long picked up the win, giving up only two hits on the night to the Raiders, while striking out nine batters in seven innings of work.
Sophomore Nick Mommer drove in a run, stole a base and scored twice for the Mustangs. Sophomore Josh Benzing went 1-fo-3 with two stolen bases. Sophomore shortstop Caleb Benzing had a single, an RBI and a run scored. Sophomore second baseman Nate DeBondt had a run scored, an RBI and a stolen base.
The Raiders’ offense was limited to singles by senior Aaron Haupert and Stover. Haupert was aggressive on the basepaths, stealing two bases for CMB.
Although the team’s record was not what the coaches and players would like it to be, the Raiders did show growth this season. In a very good and contentious Heart of Iowa Conference, the Raiders were behind the eight ball to start out, but the team grew sharper as the season went along. This is evidenced by how much closer its games became toward the end of the season.
There should be reason for optimism for the Raiders. The team will graduate five seniors that started in Saturday’s contest, but there were younger players on the 2013 squad that showed some talent. The aforementioned Stover is as athletic as they come. Stover has great range as an outfielder and a strong, although at times erratic throwing arm. Stover was second on the team in hits and his power should improve as he continues to grow.
Where Stover really impressed was on the mound. In his 37 innings of work, Stover struck out 74 hitters. Striking out two batters each inning shows he has the stuff to get varsity hitters out, and as his command develops, he could become the ace of the squad.
Zach Samson will be a senior next season. He led the Raiders in hits and RBI this season, while striking out only seven times. He will be one of the leaders on next year’s squad.
Finally, there’s sophomore Seth Balke, who began to find his form on the mound toward the end of the season. Balke was often plagued by one big inning, a habit he will have to shake if the Raiders are to make a leap in the wins total next year.