All things considered, Brandon Schafer's initial season with the Mexico varsity baseball team appeared to go fairly well.
This program is just two years removed from a one-win campaign that featured deficiencies in every facet of the game from defense to offense to pitching. Now this program has a whole lot more direction and its players can say it with pride when they tell people they're a Bulldog, which is exactly where they were hoping to be several seasons ago when they went almost an entire year without tasting victory.
"(Our) strengths were pitching and aggressiveness at the plate. We were able to put the ball in play and attacked first pitch strikes. (The) pitchers did a nice job at getting ground balls and throwing strikes in our wins," said Schafer."I wish we would have been a little more patient at the plate, not many pitchers we faced threw many pitches. We were aggressive, but sometimes we swung at bad pitches trying to hit the fastball."
Among those leaving the program this offseason will be infielders Cole Whalen, Cody Rowe and Gage Worley. Catchers Brett Wilson, Nate Haefling and Mason Craig are leaving, as well. When you then subtract outfielders Taylor Bledsoe, Dalyn Feigenspan, Jake Sims, Tucker Dobyns and Dylan Arnold that's 11 total players Mexico is losing to graduation.
"I also believe we could have done a better job at hitting the ball into gaps. We were a contact hitting team, but we rarely hit into gaps and put together big innings," Schafer said. "Plans during the offseason are to continue to get better. Many of the players are playing on summer teams and working on their craft. We have some young guys that will slide in to those outfield and infield roles."
Mexico finished this year with a record of 10-14 overall, 4-6 North Central Missouri Conference. In Class 4, District 8, action on May 13 the sixth-seeded Bulldogs began by edging out third-seed Wright City 1-0 prior to taking an agonizing 4-3 defeat to second-seeded Hannibal 4-3 the next day on May 14 in 13 innings.
"We had the opportunity to win more games. Our goals at the beginning were to reach 10 wins, and we accomplished that, said Schafer. "We wanted to compete for District and Conference titles, and I believe we could have done a better job at this, but we struggled in the middle of the year and played our way out of the conference race. We were playing our best baseball late in the year, and played well enough to make the District Championship, but came up a bit short."