RRC Baseball Preview: New talent opens doors for power shift
Last season was filled with parity in the Raccoon River Conference. How much will that change this season as the Bluejays look to navigate their way back to stay competitive with a new coach and overhauled roster.
Next week’s newsstands will provide the full team breakdown, but as a preview, know that Perry is the only team in the conference with three pitchers with over 20 innings of experience in 2019. Keghan West, Avery Meister and Kato Dougan all come back with at least 24 innings behind them as juniors.
Perry came dangerously close to pulling off a wild upset over the Tigers last season. Now ADM looks like a brand new team after six seniors graduated. Could the Bluejays take advantage of that change that loses two-thirds of its pitching staff? Maybe even more damaging, three of their four best stealers are gone as well.
A high-powered team befitting their team name, the Bombers come back with a roster half-loaded from last year’s conference winning squad that beat Perry three times. Remains to be seen how easily replaced are Jack Luster and Cody Wolfe’s six home runs.
Bondurant returns the fewest runs and extra base hits in the conference, leaving a heavy weight on replacements. That comes with the territory of losing three of the top four batters at the top of the order that were primary forces in wins over heavyweights like Carlisle, Des Moines Christian and Gilbert.
Though the Toreadors finished third in the conference standings, that didn’t stop them from moving on to the State 3A bracket after upsetting Ballard. It was a senior-dominant team, particularly on the mound as the returning bullpen has a 4.34 ERA compared to the departed seniors’ 3.00 mark that carried 13 wins.
The Wildcats were second in the conference last season with 13 home runs and 432 total bases. That’s cut down to just three and 221 respectively. But is that enough to stop Carlisle from getting their sixth straight season of at least 20 wins?
Trapped in the lower bracket of the conference last season with a squad rife with underclassmen, Carroll’s plan for the future could come together this season. A trio of juniors come back with over 100 plate appearances, helping the Tigers have the second-most returning hits, runs and total bases in the RRC.
The Huskies come back with the highest percentage of games pitching and batting production in the conference thanks to losing just one senior. While they struggled to a 7-6 conference record last season, the top-tier depth coming back leaning on the trio of Casey Young, Easton Darling and Brock Johnson makes Winterset the team to beat.