Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

March 18, 2014

Brownstown/St. Elmo set for first spring season

Ryan Czachorski
Effingham Daily News

BROWNSTOWN — Coming off a fall season where the Bombers went 9-10 but won the Egyptian Illini Conference, Brownstown/St. Elmo is ready to make its mark in its first spring season.

Seniors Levi Maxey, Jacob Behrends and Dalton Parks should the way for the co-op, which takes the field today against Shelbyville at home.

The fall season got the Bombers' feet under them in terms of the co-op, and coach Ryan Beccue likes the setup.

"The co-op has been great for baseball, as it gives us many more options," he said. "It also creates a competition for playing time. Playing time now must be earned instead of just given to players."

Behrends and Maxey serve as the team's one-two punch on the mound, and when he's on, Behrends can be one of the best pitchers in the area. In the EIC title game last fall against, Patoka, he struck out 22 in seven innings of work.

Maxey was the team's number two in the fall and also pitched for St. Elmo's solo team last fall.

"They will both be heavily relied upon again this spring," Beccue said. "Noah Flowers, Landon Feezel, Dalton Parks and Drake Hall will all get more innings this spring -- as long as the weather cooperates."

Parks and Maxey also were among the team's best bats in the fall, with Maxey pitching and playing short and Parks primarily pklaying centerfield.

Landon Feezel, a freshman, should start in the outfield after playing there in the fall, while Nick Bauer, Nate Matthews and Andrew Koonce should see time at the other outfield position.

Dustin Lawson will form the other end of the battery behind the plate, and fellow senior Justin Frailey is slated for outfield duty.

In the infield, Flowers and Malachi Maxey play third and second base as sohomores, while Hall (a junior) moved to first base in the fall.

Cody May, Cody Brooks, Klayton Kroll, Jeffrey Kelly and Cole Horner round out the roster, and Beccue said the co-op should allow them to grow as young players, as all are sophomores or freshmen.

Beccue said he likes the pitching staff, but the offense has some fundamentals to work out to improve on a 9-10 record from the fall.

"We are a fairly solid defensive team that also has three or four guys that, when throwing strikes down in the zone, can keep us in ball games," he said. "We need to continue to improve offensively as a team, not only with team batting average, but by simply moving runners over through execution at the plate. We need to learn how to drive runs home when runners are in scoring position with less than two outs."

They'll get at it today at 4:30 p.m. in Brownstown, weather permitting.