By ISAAC BOURNE | The Arkadelphian
After an unfortunate end to the 2021-22 season, head coach Drew Loe is ready for another chance at a state championship for Arkadelphia Badger baseball.
“We kind of still have a bad taste in our mouth from last season,” he said. “…getting beat in the first game of state. They just worked really hard this offseason and we’ve progressed since January and been getting a little antsy for Monday’s opening game against Stuttgart.”
The Badgers open up the season with three non-conference games, as they head to Maumelle Charter school on Monday to play Stuttgart before coming home on Tuesday for a game against Bismarck, then shipping back up to Little Rock to face Pulaski Academy at Joe T. Robinson Field.
“The biggest thing right now is making sure the right arms are in the right place,” Loe said, “just making sure we don’t overdo it pitching-wise early in the season, and getting kids in the right spots. A lot of it is going to be just making sure that they’re making their pitches and just letting our defense work behind them and not trying to overdo things.”
The Badgers are led by six seniors that all return with a chip on their shoulder, ready to prove that the Badgers can win a state title this season. Spencer La Fonte, Tripp Campbell, Donovan Witten, Carter Babb, Justin Coon and Allen Buckley all return, ready to make their mark on Badger history with its first state title since 2014.
“This year we’ve had to replace some guys [who] left a big hole,” Loe said. “A few players here and there have stepped up this year. Big key roles this year we’re replacing are at least one middle infielder and a corner infielder because we lost all of our infield last year.”
As far as their schedule, the Badgers have new competition in their conference with the addition of Ashdown, Camden-Fairview, and Magnolia.
“Magnolia is always a good team,” said Loe. “Ashdown is always a 3A powerhouse, and I’m looking forward to what that home-and-home series holds. Then we have Malvern and Nashville, really just getting back into the swing of things with those guys.”
A tougher conference needs tougher players, and that is exactly what Loe’s team brings: a team with a chip on their shoulder that is ready to make noise again in the 4A-7 conference and possibly get some jewelry while they are at it.