February 3, 2012
Solid pitching staff hopes to carry Tigers in 2012
Needing to make up for the loss of several position players, the Cowley College baseball team will look to an experienced group of pitchers to help the team continue its dominance in the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division during the 2012 season. The Tigers will get the season underway when they play a single, nine-inning game, at Rose State College Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Last year, Cowley captured its 14th conference title in the past 17 seasons, but failed to qualify for the Region VI Tournament in Wichita for the first time since 2000. The sour ending to last season has the Tigers eager to begin the 2012 campaign.
Cowley will need someone to take over the top spot in the starting rotation after the loss to graduation of first-team All-American Andrew Polly, who went 10-0 with a miniscule 0.94 earned run average last season.
Sophomore Storm Marlar, who is coming off a stellar freshman season in which he compiled a 7-1 record on the mound with an ERA under 2.00, could be a candidate for the No. 1 spot in the rotation.
Marlar also was a solid presence in the Tiger lineup as he batted .331 with an on base percentage of .431. When not on the mound, Marlar will be used as the team’s starting centerfielder.
“Storm has made a lot of improvements from his freshman year,” Cowley head coach Dave Burroughs said.
Along with Marlar, Cowley returns starting pitchers Garrett Bane and Jake Edwards. Bane signed early to pitch for Emporia State University after his sophomore season at Cowley. He started nine games as a freshman and went 6-2 with a 1.90 ERA.
Edwards started 11 games in his first season with the Tigers and finished the year with a record of 7-1 with an ERA of 3.68.
Drew Palmer also returns to the team after a solid freshman season. Palmer signed early to pitch for Oklahoma State University following his sophomore season at Cowley. He was one of the team’s top relievers during the 2011 season as he recorded four saves and posted an ERA of 3.10. Palmer will be in the hunt for a spot in the starting rotation.
Derek Fogel, a transfer from the University of Washburn, will also vie to be one of the team’s starting pitchers after going 5-5 with a 3.68 ERA as a freshman. Opposing hitters batted only .229 against Fogel.
Clark Roberts will be another valuable member of the pitching staff after going 4-0 with three saves as a freshman relief pitcher, while Kolby Baxter returns to the team after appearing in 13 games as a middle reliever.
“We will need to win by playing old fashioned baseball, with strong pitching and defense,” Burroughs said.
Cowley has added 19 freshmen to the squad, including eight transfers. The new players hope to help make up for the loss to graduation of Robbie Rea (.398 average, eight home runs, 66 RBI’s), Andrew Polly (10-0, 0.94 earned run average), Aaron Rea (.362 average, seven home runs, 56 RBI’s, 22 stolen bases), Tito Mendoza (.394 average, five home runs, 51 RBI’s), Grant Glasser (.293 average, 13 doubles), Ruben Marrero (.305 average, 19 RBI’s), Rey Otero (.330 average, 25 RBI’s), Connor Duckhorn (.317 average, 13 RBI’s), Phillip Wilson (.333 average, 2.17 ERA), and Craig George (0-2, 6.56 ERA).
“I feel good about what we have added, but they have got to go prove it,” Burroughs said. “This game is all about performance.”
Robbie Rea led the team in batting (.398), hits (86), home runs (eight), doubles (14), and RBI’s (66), while starting at third base for the Tigers. While, Aaron Rea was a standout in right field.
“Are 3-through-5 batters in our lineup were really good last year,” Burroughs said. “The ingredients are there for us to be good in those spots again, but we have got to decide which direction we are going to go. A lot will depend on how the new players transition to using a new bat.”
Ethan Elroy will be looked at to take over for Robbie Rea at third base. Elroy was an all-state baseball and football player in Marlow, OK, and is a solid athlete.
“He has got big shoes to fill,” Burroughs said.
Ryan Wilkinson from Manhattan, KS, will likely take over in right field and has the potential to be a solid player for the Tigers.
With the loss of catchers Ruben Marrero and Rey Otero, Cowley will turn to freshman catchers Tyler Munger from Topeka and Dylan Tinkler from Latta, OK, to handle the pitching staff. Roger Diaz, a redshirt freshman from Maracy, VZ, will also vie for playing time.
Sophomores Griffith Roark and Gadiel Baez will provide the Tigers with solid defense up the middle as Roark will start at second base and Baez returns as the team’s starting shortstop. Roark Signed early to play baseball at Western Kentucky following his time at Cowley and had a .343 on base percentage as a freshman. Baez is a slick fielder that batted .277 with 11 stolen bases and 33 runs batted in during the 2010-2011 season.
Casey Lassley returns to the team after batting .357 as a freshman and will be in the mix for playing time at first base along with Mike Parker, who is a redshirt transfer from Jacksonville, FL.
Jaden Chappell batted .348 with a .430 on base percentage in 66 at bats as a freshman and will provide the team with depth in the infield. After seeing limited playing time as a freshman, Dalton Piecukonis returns to the team and will battle for playing time in left field. Fernando Martinez, a mid-year transfer that played high school baseball for former Tiger great Chris Brown, will also vie for playing time in the outfield.
Other mid-season transfers to the squad are, infielder Jeremy Smith, and pitchers Lane Trudo, Travis Higgs, Beau Bowen, and Mark Meadors.
Blake Burroughs, a redshirt freshman and son of Tiger head coach Dave Burroughs, as well as Brent Burroughs, a freshman pitcher and son of Tiger assistant coach Darren Burroughs, have grown up around the program and will look to help the team on the field during the 2012 season.
Chris Roman, Josh Collier, Bryan McClellan, Tyler Rolland, Eric Ailey and Ty Rowe are other newcomers to the team that will battle for playing time.
Burroughs expects the conference to once again be very competitive with teams like Neosho County, Coffeyville, Johnson County, and Kansas City presenting a challenge. Allen County and Fort Scott could also battle for the conference title.
“I think it will be a dogfight,” Burroughs said. “You had better show up to play everyday. We hope to be more consistent than we were in the fall.”
Entering his 25th season as head coach of the Tigers, Burroughs is hoping to have his team in the hunt for another conference title and a trip to the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, CO.
“It is always a challenge in junior college athletics, but I am still enjoying the journey,” Burroughs said. “We are excited about getting started and are heading into the season with guarded optimism.”