Balance is mainstay for Red Devils in ’09

Register Sports Editor

ACCC Photo
Members of the Allen County Community College 2009 baseball team are (left to right), front row, John Michael Campbell, Matt Budke; second row, Michael Samuel, Spencer Putman, Bretton Ater, Josh Ward, Aaron Burke, Marcus Peavler, Branden Moser; third row, Brett Miller, William Reddick, Ryan Herrig, Michael Schell, Steven Bauer, David Ormiston, Connor McCrite; fourth row, head coach Val McLean, John Michael Moore, Kyle Linnebur, Seth Dutton, Matthew Stalcup, Danny White, Jake Hosey, Wyatt Hall, Dillon Hazlett, assistant coach Seth Beason; fifth row, Zac Chase, Zach Dodson, Mark Thompson, Benjamin Pearson, Brandon Faulkner, Danny Shearman, Ben Rister, Stefaan Jefferson, Kennerth Harris.

Balance in all three phases of the game of baseball is key to success.
Allen County Community College head coach Val McLean said he sees that type of balance in the 2009 edition of the Red Devil baseball team.
“I just see balance in all areas for this club. We have good depth on the pitching staff and among position players. We look to have a solid defensive team in the field and we have a little power and a lot of speed up and down our hitting lineup,” McLean said.
Pitching, field and hitting — the three phases of the game. McLean, who is in his 32nd year as Red Devil baseball head coach, has been pleased with what he has seen from his players throughout the winter workouts.
“We’ve been blessed with outstanding weather this winter, as has all the teams in the conference. We’ve been able to be out on the field and get a lot done,” McLean said.
McLean’s assistant coach Seth Beason is in his second year. Beason is a former ACCC player, 2004 and 2005, and played for Friends University in Wichita.
The Red Devils are making a swing south to open the 2009 season. They were to have played games against Bossier Parish Community College Thursday and today in Shreveport, La. The Red Devils defeated Bossier Parish 5-4 on Thursday.
They are slated to play games Saturday and Sunday against Murray State in Tishimingo, Okla.
Allen County has its home opener scheduled Wednesday with a doubleheader against Evangel College’s junior varsity. The first game is at 3 p.m. on Red Devil Field.
A year ago, the Red Devils went 20-16 in Jayhawk Eastern Division play, finishing fifth for the second straight year. They defeated Butler Community College in a best-of-three sub-region playoff series to reach the NJCAA Region VI tournament.
Allen County lost its first two games in the region tournament and finished at 29-24.
“The Jayhawk Eastern Division — the whole Jayhawk Conference — is very tough. There’s not a lot of difference between the teams top to bottom in the East. You have to be ready to play every pitch, every inning and every game,” McLean said.
McLean said Cowley County will be strong as always and Johnson County is coming off of last year’s trip to the JUCO World Series.
“I think we’ll be in the running,” McLean said of his Red Devils. “We have to stay healthy. Right now we have a couple of injury questions to clear up as the season begins.”
Jayhawk East play opens for the Red Devils March 7 at Neosho County.
Allen County has 11 sophomores on the team of 31 this season. Back from last year’s team are Dillon Hazlett, Ben Rister, Josh Ward, Jake Hosey, Seth Dutton, Kyle Linnebur, Ryan Herrig, Brandon Faulkner, Zach Dodson, Danny Shearman and Brett Miller.
Hazlett, who has signed to play for the University of North Carolina, was the Jayhawk Eastern Division freshman player of the year in 2008. Hazlett returns as Allen County’s starting shortstop, a position he earned All-Jayhawk East second-team honors for a year ago.
“We have one of the premier shortstops in the conference. Dillon is as good as it gets at shortstop plus he can hit for power or average and has speed on the bases,” McLean said.
“Our main offensive threat will be our team speed. We will put pressure on teams with our speed on the bases.”
Hazlett led ACCC in home runs last year with seven and had 13 doubles as he hit .377 and drove in 51 runs. He was the team’s leader in stolen bases with 24.
Dutton is Allen County’s clean-up hitter, batting fourth in the lineup. The sophomore is slated to start at first base and has a .295 batting average from last year. He drove in 12 runs, scored 16, had 26 hits including one home run.
Ward is at the other corner of the infield for the Red Devils, third base. Ward had 58 hits, which included 11 doubles and five home runs, last year and 34 RBIs. Ward hit .358 and had six stolen bases.
“Seth and Josh are good defensive players at the corners. They both have been swinging the bat well in the fall and in preseason practices,” McLean said.
Linnebur and Herrig saw limited duty last year. Linnebur is expected to be in a three-man rotation behind the plate and Herrig is vying for the starting spot in right field.
“We’ll be running three catchers but right now two are hurt. Kyle, who is out right now, is expected to be in the lineup as a catcher or as a designated hitter (DH). We have freshmen William Reddick and Michael Schell working as catchers. William is a good receiver and the better hitter of the three. Michael has more raw talent but is coming off a broken wrist,” McLean said.
Herrig is in a platooning stage in right field with freshman Stefaan Jefferson. Allen County has two freshmen in the other outfield spots — Marcus Peavler in left and Brett Ater in center. McLean said all the players slotted for the outfield have good speed and strong arms.
Danny White, a freshman, is the backup first baseman and a solid DH candidate for the batting order. McLean said no player really has “jumped out and taken the DH position.”
At second base, two freshmen are battling for the starting spot. Wyatt Hall and Michael Samuel. McLean said both players have good solid fielding skills.
Four sophomores are slated to lead the Red Devil pitching staff. Hosey, Faulkner, Rister and Shearman are expected to be the top four starting pitchers. All four are right-handed pitchers.
“Jake is our No. 1 starter and is awfully good on the mound for us. Brandon, who is a local product from Yates Center, has improved his velocity. He has gone from throwing it 83 to 85 (miles per hour) to 88 to 90,” McLean said. “Ben has also bumped up his velocity and Danny is a steady pitcher.”
Hosey is headed to the University of Texas-Pan American. He went 3-4 as a starter for the Red Devils last year. He had a earned run average (ERA) of 2.86. Hosey pitched 56 1/3 innings yielding 52 hits and 31 runs. He issued 25 walks and chalked up 46 strikeouts. Hosey also hit .318 with six runs scored and six RBIs last year.
Staying a little closer to home is Yates Center product Faulkner. Faulkner signed with Kansas State University. Faulkner went 1-3 a year ago for ACCC with an ERA of 5.06. He allowed 28 hits, 27 runs and 11 walks while recording 16 strikeouts.
Rister had a 3.56 ERA pitching 19 2/3 innings. He allowed 19 hits, walked eight and struck out 14. Shearman saw limited action on the mound a year ago but is counted on as a starter this season.
The remaining sophomore pitcher, Dodson, is a left-handed thrower who will be coming out of the ACCC bullpen as a specialist. Freshman Zac Chase, a right-hander, has been throwing well.
McLean said the Red Devils had several good freshmen who will push the sophomores for starting time. They are left-hander Matt Stalcup and right-handers Mark Thompson and David Ormiston.
“We have an awfully good closer in freshman John Michael Moore. He is really throwing the ball well right now,” McLean said. “We’re excited about this season.”

Allen County Community College
2009 Baseball Schedule

Feb. 19-20 — Bossier Parrish, Shreveport, La.
Feb. 21-22 — Murray State, Tishimingo, Okla.
Feb. 25 —Evangel College JV, 3 p.m.
March 3 — Brown Mackie, 3 p.m.
March 5 — Butler (1 game), 3 p.m.
March 7 — Neosho County, 1 p.m.
March 9 — Friends Univ. JV, 1 p.m.
March 10 — Labette, 1 p.m.
March 12 — Highland, 1 p.m.
March 14-15 — University of Arkansas-Fort Smith
March 19 — Coffeyville, 1 p.m.
March 21 — Johnson County, 1 p.m.
March 24 — Cowley County, 2 p.m.
March 26 — Independence, 1 p.m.
March 28 — Neosho County, 1 p.m.
March 30 — Friends JV, 3 p.m.
March 31 — Labette, 3 p.m.
April 2 — Highland, 1 p.m.
April 4 — Fort Scott, 1 p.m.
April 7 — Kansas City, 1 p.m.
April 9 — Coffeyville, 3 p.m.
April 11 — Johnson County, 1 p.m.
April 14 — Cowley County, 3 p.m.
April 16 — Independence, 3 p.m.
April 18 — Fort Scott, 1 p.m.
April 21 — Brown Mackie, 3 p.m.
April 23 — Butler (1 game), 4 p.m.
April 25 — Kansas City, 1 p.m.
April 26 — Longview (1 game), 1 p.m.
April 28 — Longview (1 game), 3 p.m.
May 2-3 — Region VI playoffs, TBA
May 9-12 — Region VI tournament, Wichita