As he enters his third season as the skipper of the Purcell Dragons, Cole Sharp knows his 2020 club will have to bring their lunch pails to the office game in and game out.
It would be true in any scenario but this season the Dragons have been bumped up to Class 4A and face one of the best, if not the best, district in Oklahoma.
In addition to the Dragons, the likes of Heritage Hall, Seminole, Kingfisher, Mount St. Mary, Douglass, McLoud and Harrah make up the Mount Rushmore of 4A baseball.
“Two of the teams in our district went to State last year,” Sharp said. “We’ll have to bring it every Monday and Tuesday (district game days) with our best hitting, pitching and fielding.”
Purcell is coming off a 17-11 campaign last season that ended in the Regional Tournament. The Dragons return a ton of experienced talent after losing only three seniors off the 2019 squad.
Senior Nick Albright returns at the hot corner. He’ll also see some duty on the mound and in the outfield, Sharp said.
Another senior Jeremy Cudd returns as the starter at first base. The southpaw will also be used on the mound as the Dragons’ closer.
Fellow senior Brennan Farris would have been the leadoff hitter and man the outfield, but a knee injury in football has put off his return to the diamond.
“Hopefully, he can hit for us later in the season,” the coach said.
Junior Gavin Constant is a handy weapon to have in Sharp’s quiver.
“He’s a utility player that will do whatever you ask of him,” Sharp said.
Fellow junior Cade Smith will anchor the middle infield playing short stop and will also spend some time this spring on the mound.
“A kid that has been working his tail off in the off-season and that is showing a lot of improvement is Ryan Maynard,” Sharp said.
Maynard will be used as a utility player and will also pitch.
Another left hander, Dayton Smith, will start in the outfield but Sharp said he and his staff will be working to get Smith into the pitching rotation.
Sophomore Creed Smith will work behind the plate for the 2020 Dragons after improving by a mile last year as a freshman.
“He started figuring it out last year and has been doing a good job for us in the scrimmages,” Sharp said. “He’ll be our main guy back there.”
Sharp expects sophomore Broderick Smith to have the rock in his hand a bunch this season.
Smith went 8-0 as a freshman.
“He was our main pitcher last year,” Sharp reports figuring the same for this season.
One of the holes to fill this season is at second base where sophomore Hayden Harp is competing with several others for the starting nod.
Sharp is eager to welcome sophomore Nate Willis out to the diamond once he and his Dragon teammates complete the basketball season.
“Willis hit over .500 last year as a freshman,” Sharp said of the talented Willis.
“We have several other young guys that are battling for playing time in both the infield and outfield,” the coach said.
Sharp said the strength of the 2020 Dragons will be their athletic ability on defense.
“Our pitching will have to carry us early,” the coach said. “Our hitting, with another year under our belts, will be a lot better this year.
“Hitting is always a work in progress. It’ll take a while to get our timing and rhythm.
“We’re excited about this season and are ready to get going,” Sharp said. “I think everyone on the team is excited for the 2020 season.”