Pirates return the bulk of their lineup after missing all of 2020 due to the pandemic

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
BOONVILLE PIRATES BASEBALL TEAM (front row, left to right) Chandler Stonecipher, Max Eckerle, Caidyn Hazel, Colby Caton, Isaac Marriott, Shane Chamberlain and Cameron Poulsen. (second row, left to right) Harley Waller, Garrett Hundley, Ethan Watson, Connor Rhorer, Peyton Taylor, Cade Schupp and Jamesian McKee. (third row, left to right) Spencer Steakley, Bryce Harris, Axton Nease, Saylor Marquez, Kayle Rice, Lane West, Hunter Pethan and Cody Garner.

After losing the entire 2020 season due to the pandemic, the Boonville Pirates baseball team couldn’t be happier to be back on the field in 2021.

Although the names and faces may have changed since being on the field back on May 14 in the district championship game against Helias, the goal is still the same.

Boonville coach Adam Arnette said the Pirates should be as competitive as they have ever been. “I think we have a very solid starting lineup,” Arnette said. “I’m happy with how they’ve been swinging the bat so far.”

With 38 players suited up for the 2021 season and five returning lettermen, the Pirates will find out soon enough where they stand. With the season opener cancelled against Fulton on Friday due to the Boonville Lady Pirates basketball team playing in the Final Four, Boonville will now have to wait another week to hit the field for its first game on Friday, March 26 at home against Hallsville.

Of course what is one week when the team last played some 680 days ago.

Nonetheless, Arnette said the Tri-County Conference is shaping up pretty much like in 2019 with Boonville, Southern Boone and Blair Oaks at the top. After that, Arnette said he doesn’t know how the rest of the conference will shake out because he doesn’t know how many of the kids are on those teams.

“I know our kids want to win the conference,” Arnette said of the teams goals. “The key for us is keeping our pitching staff healthy, playing good defense and putting the ball in play. I also think the kids would like to make a push into districts. They want to take the next step from where they were in 2019.”

What the Pirates lack in experienced arms on the mound, they will more than make up for in quantity.

Arnette said Boonville will have anywhere from 6-8 players who can throw this spring, starting with junior Jamesian McKee and senior Kayle Rice as the projected 1-2 starters. Arnette also mentioned junior Cade Schupp along with Cody Garner, Colby Caton, Peyton Taylor, Lane West, Caidyn Hazel and Axton Nease.

Rice returns with the most experience of the group while pitching 9 1/3 innings in 2019. 

Garner pitched a total of seven innings and finished 1-1, while McKee threw five innings in his only appearance and recorded a no-hitter against the Eldon Mustangs with seven strikeouts.

Other players that saw action on the mound were Bryce Harris for 3 1/3 innings, West for 3 innings, and Nease for 2 1/3 innings. 

“We’re going to have three or four guys that will start games and then have a bunch of guys that can come in and fill in and throw strikes,” Arnette said. “With our defense being solid, I feel like I can throw some guys in there that are going to pitch to contact and be able to get guys out.”

As for the infield, Boonville returns three starters from 2019 with senior Saylor Marquez at first base, senior Peyton Taylor at second base and senior Lane West at third base. Kayle Rice, who was the teams designated hitter in 2019, will be back as the starting catcher. 

Marquez, a all-district performer in 2019, returns after hitting .339 with 21 hits in 62 at-bats with 21 RBIs and 15 runs score. Rice, meanwhile, hit .342 as a DH with 13 hits in 38 at bats with 12 RBIs and eight runs scored. West and Taylor hit .208 and .163, respectively in 2019.

Rounding out the infield for Boonville is sophomore Colby Caton at shortstop.

“I think the infield as a solid is going to be really solid,” Arnette said. “We have three starters back from 2019 and I feel like Colby and Peyton will be solid up the middle. They work well together. We’re hoping that Saylor can repeat his honors at first and then Lane can come in and play third and give us some innings on the mound. 

“Cody can play all three positions at second, short and third, and then Connor Rhorer is another player that we are looking for to come in and play some at first and third. I think we’re going to be pretty solid on the infield, probably as solid as we’ve looked the last two or three years.”

Arnette said Garner could also be used as the teams designated hitter after hitting .276 in 2019. Arnette also mentioned sophomore Ethan Watson as the backup catcher when Rice pitches.

As for the outfield, McKee will more than likely get the start in center when he’s not on the mound. Senior Hunter Pethan, who just recently signed with Westminster College in Fulton on a baseball scholarship, will get the starting not in left, while Schupp opens up the season in right.

“It’s going to be kind of a rotation in the outfield,” Arnette said. “Caidyn Hazel and Spencer Steakley both have worked some in the outfield. It’s just going to depend on the situation and who’s pitching.”

With all new outfielders this season with a total of three at-bats, Arnette said this is completely opposite of what it’s been like in the past-where the outfield had more experience than the infield. Now it’s reversed, he said. 

Boonville Pirates 2021 Baseball Schedule

5-26-HALLSVILLE, 5

5-30-at Helias, 5

4-1-MOBERLY, 5

4-5-SO. BOONE, 5

4-7-10-S-C Tourn., TBA

4-13-at Clinton, 5

4-17-Hallsville JV Tourn., TBA

4-20-at Blair Oaks, 5

4-23-24-Wood Bat Tournament, TBA

4-26-at Rock Bridge, 5

4-27-MEXICO, 5

4-29-VERSAILLES, 5

4-30-at Odessa, 4:30

5-4-at California, 5

5-6-SMITH-COTTON, 5

5-11-OSAGE, 5

5-13-MARSHALL, 5

5-14-22-Districts, TBA

5-25-Sectionals, TBA

5-27-Quarterfinals, TBA

6-3-5-State

Note: Home games in caps. 

Boonville C-Team 2021 Baseball Schedule

3-23-HICKMAN, 5

3-25-at Blair Oaks, 5

3-31-SMITH-COTTON, 5

4-5-at Fulton, 5

4-13-MEXICO, 5

4-19-at Battle, 5

4-26-ROCK BRIDGE, 5

5-5-FULTON, 5

5-7-8-Rock Bridge Tournament, TBA.

Note: Home games in caps.