After their Kaysinger Conference Tournament title last year, the Tipton baseball team barreled their way into districts outscoring their opponents 14-2 before a first-round exit at State. The Cardinals look to defend their conference status and win their fourth title in five years.
Tipton graduated five seniors from last season, and are under the direction of first-year coach Jake Watson. Seniors Ryan Wood, catcher, and Nik-Fowler Hainen, centerfield lead Tipton to their first game Saturday against Vienna.
Injuries have already claimed a couple Tipton arms, and Watson said only nine players will travel for Saturday’s season-opener. Tipton will travel without pitchers Kenton Stover and Braydon Renfro.
And while Tipton returns seniors up the middle at catcher and centerfield, Braiden Brownfield and Joey Rimel are competing for time at shortstop.
“We’re really young this year,” Watson said.
It is a roster Watson can grow with in his first year at Tipton. He teaches physical education at Tipton and most recently worked at Hogan Prep in Kansas City.
Watson said the move to Tipton has been “a good transition.”
“I couldn’t ask for a much better spot to land,” Watson said.
Watson is the third coach in as many years for Cardinals baseball. Current softball coach Eric McNeal managed the team last year and current Sedalia Middle School assistant principal coached in 2014.
Tipton superintendent Scott Jarvis said it is to the school’s advantage to ensure a faculty member is coach.
“It is desirable to have someone available in case a parent has questions,” Jarvis said.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2