Archive for Thursday, May 29, 2003

Eudora baseball ends season with solid record

May 29, 2003

Going into the 2003 baseball season the Cardinals established lofty goals such as 15 wins and a state tournament berth. Given the fact that Eudora was under the direction of a new coach and possessed a senior class that had never finished above .500 those goals appeared unrealistic.

Although falling painfully short of its ultimate objectives, this year's team managed to make fools of the multitude of doubters. The Cards set a school record with 14 wins, establishing the beginning foundation for a proud Eudora tradition to come.

"I'm very delighted," said coach Dirk Kinney. "It didn't end the way we wanted, but overall I'm delighted. We surprised a lot of people. I hope we started a trend and people now know where Eudora is."

Kinney and his Redbirds certainly put Eudora baseball on the map. In a town fervent in football fever, the Cards built a baseball buzz.

Eudora's brand of baseball was custom made for fans and sportswriters. The Cardinals combined an offensive flare for the "big inning" with a stifling pitching staff that overwhelmed the majority of those they opposed. The Cards averaged 9.42 runs-per-game while allowing just 3.42 runs-per-game. Eudora scored in double-figures 12 times in just 19 games while never allowing an opponent to score more than seven runs. As a team the Cardinals had an on-base-average of .553 while their opposition collected an OBA of .179 -- an astonishing contrast.

Of course it helps to have three first-team all-league selections on your team. Senior shortstop Andrew Pyle, senior first baseman Heath Fanning, and designated hitter junior Aaron Westerhouse achieved such honors this year. Eudora's top two hurlers, senior Seth Johnson and sophomore Rod Evinger, were selected second-team all-league. Junior Troy VanHorn received an honorable mention.

Pyle was also selected as the team MVP. The Eudora star led the team in 10 offensive categories: he hit .548, with three home runs, 31 RBIs, had 15 stolen bases, nine doubles, two triples, an OBA of .676 and an impossible slugging percentage of .903.

"(Pyle's) going to be sorely missed," Kinney said. "Not as an athlete. His hustle and attitude will be missed much more than his athleticism. He is one of the best leaders I have ever seen, college or high school."

The team's pitching MVP was given to Johnson. Eudora's ace went 4-1 with a 2.48 ERA. He amassed 35 strikeouts against 14 walks. Johnson has signed to play at William Jewell where Kinney expects him to have a great career.

VanHorn earned the team's Defensive Player of the Year award. The catcher/right fielder emerged as a budding star both offensively and defensively. He hit .415, with three home runs and 19 RBIs.

"(VanHorn's) finally learning that when he's screwed on he can play," Kinney said. "He's a heck of an athlete who still has a lot of things to improve on."

Fanning was selected Most Inspirational Player. What can you say about a player who goes 3-1 with a 4.55 ERA and makes first-team as first baseman? The versatile leader also hit .386.

"Fanning's not the most athletic, but he plays with heart and works his tail off," Kinney said.

Eudora's Most Improved Player is junior Monte Steffey. The Cardinals' second baseman grew into one of the best hitters and clutch players on the team. Steffey hit .463 collecting 11 RBIs on just 19 hits.

Newcomer of the Year was split between Evinger and junior Aaron Westerhouse.

Evinger began the season as the fourth man in a four-man rotation. A single earned run in a 27-inning span led to a meteoric rise that placed him on the mound to start the team's only regional game. Evinger led the team in wins (4), ERA (1.56), strikeouts (39) and opponents OBA (.135).

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