The Prairie Home Panthers baseball team will have a new look in 2019.
While the Panthers baseball team-whether it’s boy’s softball or baseball-has been around for over 30 years, Prairie Home will try something different this season by co-oping with Bunceton not just in baseball but girl's volleyball as well.
With 14 players suited out for the upcoming season, seven of which are returning starters, Prairie Home head coach Trevor Huth said the Panthers will have the same number of student athletes but will be deeper than they normally are.
“We picked up some more students wanting to pitch and looks like our defense has improved also,” Huth said. “Also, we hustle every play, we make sure we run every ball out and put pressure on the defense to make an out. With that being said, we will be able to compete in every game we play this year and that’s our goal. To make the routine outs and put the ball in play to challenge other teams to get us out.”
While finishing 7-7 overall and 4-0 in the spring in the CCAA conference, Huth said in his opinion the Jamestown Eagles are probably the favorite in the conference this season. He said they are always well coached and they make you have to beat them every game. “They have the right mix of upper classmen and lower classmen that play well together and are a tough team year in and year out.”
Huth also tabbed Calvary Lutheran to be a tough team this coming year in the CCAA. He said they always have students that play the game well and competes every day. “They are also well coached and don’t make any wins easy,” Huth said. “They have pitching depth and make you put the ball in play to beat them. We fit in right with Jamestown at the top. Last spring we took home first place in the conference from Jamestown and Bunceton and we expect to be right up there again this year with this team. Every game will be a battle but the conference is up for grabs this year and we are working hard towards finishing this fall on a good note.”
If the Panthers are going to contend for the conference title this fall, Huth said the key to the season will be making sure they throw strikes and play good defense behind the pitchers. He said the offense will try to put up runs but as long as they can keep the ball in front of them and throw strikes on the mound, they will compete every game.
Huth also lists several goals for the upcoming season. He said the Panthers want to compete in every game and play the game the right way; hustle of and off the field and running every play out and never giving up; along with that they have their eyes set at being at the top of the conference. He said if they can compete and play together every game, they can complete those goals.
However like any team, you have to have pitching to be successful and Prairie Home has plenty of arms on the mound in Dillon Alpers, Mason Wells, Hunter Shuffield and Tallon Benne. All four pitched for their respective schools last spring and will return to give the Panthers depth this fall.
Huth will also have his choice at catcher, with Jason Burnett starting last spring at Bunceton and Blane Petsel holding down the fort at Prairie Home.
On the infield,  Huth will look to three players to split time at first base in Alex Rhode, Ty Stidham and Tallon Benne. Petsel and Shuffield will see time at second. Meanwhile, on the left side of the infield, Huth said senior Clayton Pethan will get most of the playing time at shortstop. As for third, Huth will look to both Wells and Shuffield.
The outfield will also have plenty arms to roam around with seven different players likely to see playing time. Players that Huth will look to in the outfield are Alpers, Shuffield, Dakota Rose, Payton Pitts, Ryan Small, Trip Kendrick and Kaden Pearcy.
Here is what Huth said about each player in a condensed form:
Jason Burnett-Jason is looking to start some games at catcher this season. He moves well behind the plate, blocking balls and throwing the ball around to all the bases. He will also see time on the mound in more of a reliever role.
Blane Petsel-Blane is another kid that will see time behind the plate. He has caught the last two seasons for Prairie Home and has made a big jump every season to improve his game behind the plate. He will also see a lot of time at second base.
Clayton Pethan-Clayton will look to get most of his playing time at shortstop. Clayton is a very athletic kid that makes some hard plays look easy. He will get to every ball hit in his direction and make the outs.
Mason Wells-Mason will look to get a lot of his playing time at third base and some first base this season. Mason has a good glove and will field anything hit to him. He also has a good arm to go with the glove and can throw almost whoever he wants out. He will bat in the middle of the lineup this season.
Hunter Shuffield-Hunter is an athletic kid that fields the ball well in the outfield and infield. No matter where you put him he has a good arm to throw people out and will catch the ball hit around him.
Ty Stidham-Ty will get his time at a lot of different places this season. He can play first base and third base both well. He fields the ball and will always throw the ball on target to get the out. Ty will get most of his time on the mound this season.
Alex Rhode-Alex works around the bag well, catches the ball and works hard to improve scooping the ball out of the dirt every day. He will see his time at first base.
Dillon Alpers-Dillon comes into this season looking to get his time mostly in the outfield. Alpers is a quick kid that will track a ball down quickly. He has the arm to keep a lot of runners from taking the extra base. Alpers will also took to get time on the mound. He throws the ball with good velocity and throws strikes along with that.
Tallon Benne-Tallon has really worked hard this off-season and it shows. He runs fly balls down much better and is throwing the ball much easier this year. Tallon improved last season on the mound and has shown that he can handle more of it this coming season and we need him to continue to grow.
Dakota Rose-Dakota will catch any ball hit at him and throws the ball well to keep runners from taking the extra base in the outfield.
Pethan Pitts-Pethan works hard to improve his range and throwing the ball where it is needed in the outfield.
Ryan Small-Ryan is a quick kid that gets to any ball hit over his head in the outfield.
Kaden Pearcy-Kaden works hard every day to improve his game and throws the ball well and can catch the ball hit to him.
Trip Kendrick-Trip works hard to improve his speed in the outfield and get to those balls that aren’t hit right at him. He has a good arm and will see some time behind the plate.