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Raiders have conference title to play for this season

Senior Cy Stanley of the Shenandoah High School baseball team gets ready to fire the ball toward the plate against a Union County batter in the first game of the season-opening doubleheader March 31.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

MIDDLETOWN — After not having been affiliated with a conference the past several years, the Shenandoah High School baseball team now has a conference championship to compete for this year.

The Raiders joined the Mid-Eastern Conference for the 2017-18 athletic seasons and the Shenandoah boys basketball team shared the MEC title this past winter with Eastern Hancock, the other new entry to the league. The Raider baseballers would like to do the same and more this year.

Shenandoah graduated 10 seniors from the 2017 team that finished with a record of 12-14. One of those players was Max McKee, who played pitcher and shortstop and who is now playing the sport in college.

But almost every team begins anew each season without the departed seniors, and the Raiders are no different. Lettermen returning this season are seniors Dylan Frost and Cy Stanley and juniors Jake Webster, Gabe Young, Landen Freestone, Lucas Wuestefeld, Kyle Randolph, Hadden Myers, Ty Alexander and Gavin Patrick.

“We are searching for a lineup and starters,” Shenandoah Coach Bruce Stanley stated. “Losing 10 seniors means that every position is open and all players are competing for spots.”

In the Raiders’ season-opening doubheader split against visiting Union County March 31, all of those players, except Young and Myers, got significant playing time. Frost played at first base, Cy Stanley was the starting pitcher and winner in game one, and Patrick, coming back from Tommy John surgery, was the designated hitter in game one and the starting pitcher in the second contest.

Added to the above-named upperclassmen are some underclassmen on the varsity team.

“Sophomores Coleson White and Jackson Campbell are returning players to the program and look to make a big impact on varsity this year,” Stanley noted. “Freshmen Blake Surface and Tanner Goff look to come into the program and compete for a position.”

In the season-opening games against the Patriots, Wuestefeld played centerfield and in right field, Randolph was at second base, Freestone played at shortstop, White was at third base, Campbell was in left field, Alexander did the catching, and Webster played some in right field. Randolph and White did some relief pitching in the first game, Campbell and Surface did the same in game two, and Goff is some courtesy running and made a couple plate appearances.

Shenandoah followed the split with Union County with a 6-5 come from behind victory against visiting Tri last Thursday.

The Raiders once again are in Class 2A Sectional 40 for the IHSAA tournament and are in the same field as host Frankton, Lapel, Monroe Central, Muncie Burris, and Wapahani, which was ranked No. 1 in Class A at the beginning of the season.

“We have very simple goals for the 2018 season,” Coach Stanley added.

“We want to make sure that we show up every day and get better. We are really focused on competing and doing what we do and doing it well. This is a very fun, energetic group of kids that want to compete and win. This is our first year in the MEC conference and we would like to compete for a conference championship. Competing for a sectional title is always a goal for us.”