After winning 15 games last year and earning an upset over St. Francis Borgia in the opening round of the district playoffs, Camdenton’s head baseball coach Bryce Durnin thinks that his team has a lot of positive momentum this spring.
“We feel like if we won 15 games last year, we should be able to push for 20 games this season,” said Durnin.
The Lakers’ optimism is due in no small part to them retaining most of their core from last season. All of their pitchers and six of the nine starters in their lineup are returning this spring, including a total of seven seniors.
Among the seniors expected to make an impact on the field and in terms of leadership is Conner Miller, who coach Durnin expects to be Camdenton’s ace at the top of the rotation and also bat at the top of the lineup. Miller finished a successful 2021 season with an Honorable Mention All-State selection, First Team All District, and Second Team All-Ozark Conference honors as both a pitcher and outfielder.
Fellow seniors Mitch Orozco and Noah Normand will join Miller on the pitching staff, which Durnin says will likely have a five or six man starting rotation this spring. “We have a variety of different arms and we may explore using guys in closer roles or ways we have not traditionally used them,” he said about how the Lakers will look to utilize their pitchers this year.
Another player that the Lakers hope to get innings out of is Kam Durnin. After giving his team additional pitching depth by working in relief during their 5-0 start last season, Kam was forced to stop pitching due to elbow soreness. In addition to his regular work at shortstop, coach Durnin says that having Kam back in the mix for pitching should help out his team considerably.
Handling the pitching staff at catcher this season will be Landon Thomas and Jonathan Zeigler, with Thomas eventually getting the majority of the time behind the plate last season. Though regardless of whoever is catching, coach Durnin says that both should work their way into the lineup, “Either way we go, these two guys make our team better.”
Overall, Durnin said the Lakers will have seven or eight pitchers ready to pitch competitively at the beginning of the season, and defensively he pointed to returning three of the four infield positions as a sign that they should have a solid infield defense.
In terms of what he hopes to accomplish this season, coach Durnin has a clear bar for success.
“I continue to think of being in the District Championship game as a measure of success. I think that should be the minimum expectation every year. We did not make it there last season— enough said,” remarked Durnin.
But he has high hopes for the Lakers to make a deep playoff run this spring and believes that the recent run of success has had a positive effect on the culture and attitude surrounding the program.
“I hope the experience and winning culture shows up this spring… It’s time to turn our program up a notch and now is the time to do it.”