Young Raiders only lose five seniors
It was another season of growing pains for the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter baseball team in 2013.
Playing under their third coach in as many seasons, the Raiders went 1-22 overall after going 1-21 a year ago. CMB finished 0-18 in the Heart of Iowa Conference this season after finishing 1-16 in the conference in 2012.
Max Seeman took over the Raider program this year. He faced plenty of challenges trying to get CMB to play consistent baseball for seven innings, night in and night out.
"My first varsity season was like a roller-coaster ride," Seeman said. "There times where the team didn’t look very good and it was like I hadn’t done a single thing as a coach. But then there were those moments where we played like we know how to and played with some of the best teams in the state."
CMB hung tough with eventual Class 2A state runner-up North Polk for several innings in Alleman before suffering a 13-2 loss to the Comets June 5. On June 13, the Raiders stayed with Gilbert before suffering a 13-9 setback and they played West Marshall tough two days later on the road before falling to the Trojans by a 5-2 score.
The Raiders also fell just short in their final two regular-season games.
CMB suffered a 4-3 loss to Madrid in a non-conference game on July 10 at Madrid. The Raiders traveled to Jefferson on July 11 and were handed another one-run setback by Greene County, this time by a 5-4 score.
The lone victory for CMB came the same day the Raiders lost to West Marshall. CMB defeated Grundy Center by a 6-2 score at the West Marshall tournament in State Center June 15.
"Our biggest highlights, in my mind, were the innings we stuck with those top-tier teams in the state," Seeman said. "We played a few awesome innings against North Polk, Roland-Story, Gilbert and Ballard, to name a few. Those glimpses of excellence showed me, and hopefully my players, that anything is possible. In baseball on any given night, one team can beat another."
CMB ended the season by losing to East Marshall by an 8-0 score in the opening round of 2A districts.
"This season was a learning experience," Seeman said. "Our record isn’t what any of us wanted, but from where were at during the beginning of the season to where we were at the end is a night and day difference."
On offense CMB scored 47 runs, an average of 2.04 per game. The Raiders hit .171 with a .212 slugging average and .265 on-base average and they finished with 29 steals, 13 doubles and three home runs as a team.
First baseman Zach Samson was the lone Raider to hit over .300.
Samson posted a .333 batting average and .419 on-base and .463 slugging averages during the season. He belted four doubles and one home run and led the team in runs (eight), RBI (seven) and steals (nine).
Freshman Brady Stover hit .258 with a .329 OBA. Stover totalled two doubles, scored six runs and finished with three steals and RBI apiece.
Brad Ritter, another freshman, hit right at .200 with four runs in 15 at-bats. Senior infielder Aaron Haupert finished with .182 batting and .260 on-base averages and he hit two doubles, swiped five bases and scored eight runs.
Sophomore Seth Balke hit .161 with three doubles, eight runs, six steals and four RBI. Bryce Kemp, another sophomore, finished with two home runs and four RBI in only 19 at-bats.
Senior outfielder Darrien Sadler led CMB in walks with nine and he had a .372 OBA. Levi Anderson finished with double, run, RBI and five walks; Logan Cory tallied four runs, six hits and two RBI; Nick Carroll had six hits – including a double – and Zach Hartgers recorded four hits, three runs and six RBI.
Stover was the top pitcher for CMB. He paced the team with 37 innings and went 0-6 with a 4.35 earned-run average and 74 strikeouts against just 30 walks.
Nate Bishop, another freshman, went 1-1 and led the team with a 3.41 ERA in 12 1/3 innings. Balke threw 31 2/3 innings and finished 0-4 with a 9.51 ERA, 20 strikeouts and six walks, Hartgers ended up 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 13 walks in 23 innings and Anderson also went 0-3 with a 7.72 ERA, 11 strikeouts and 10 walks in 22 2/3 innings.
Samson also threw 9 1/3 innings and Kemp added 2/3 of an inning on the mound. As a team CMB surrendered 218 runs – an average of 9.5 per game – with a staff ERA of 7.99 and 140 strikeouts against 83 walks in 136 2/3 innings.
Fielding was a major issue for CMB. The Raiders had a poor team fielding average of .884 as they totaled 72 errors in 621 chances with 399 putouts, 150 assists and two runners caught stealing.
CMB will be graduating Anderson, Carroll, Hartgers, Haupert and Sadler.
"Every single one of my seniors was a starter the majority of the season," Seeman said. "These were the guys that held us together. They all bought into their roles on the team and did whatever was asked of them. We had a couple vocal leaders and even more who led by example."
Seeman said it will be tough to replace the leadership of his senior class. But with two talented freshman pitchers coming back and Samson to lead the way on offense, CMB has enough returning talent to break out of its two-year funk and start to rack up more victories in 2014.
"With only five seniors, a lot of younger guys had to step up and play varsity," Seeman said. "Getting that experience as an underclassman is vital to these guys’ success in the future. We have two juniors returning and everyone else was a sophomore, freshman or eighth-grader this year. That makes me very excited for the next few seasons."