The Sedalia Bombers are looking to run.
“I think this team’s built for speed,” said manager Jud Kindle. “We have a lot of fast guys in the top of our lineup.”
With the lineup the team will put on the field, Kindle hopes to take extra bases. One of those fast guys is Missouri State’s Trey Hair, expected to be a base-stealing threat following a season in which he appeared in 23 games for the Bears. As a senior in high school, Hair led all Class B hitters in the state of Nebraska with a .495 average. He was also part of state championship teams in high school and American Legion ball.
“He’s a good on-base guy,” Kindle said. “He’s small but can really play the game well.”
Kindle expects Jerrod Perry to start out as the centerfielder. The Evansville junior hit .271 and stole 12 bases in 13 attempts for the Purple Aces this spring.
Kindle expects Hunter Leeper to be one of the best all-around hitters in the lineup. Leeper hit .364 for Mineral Area this spring with eight home runs and 48 RBI. He recorded a .463 on-base percentage and a .588 slugging percentage while striking out just 23 times in 187 at bats.
“He’s going to be in the middle of our lineup,” Kindle said. “Two years in a row, he’s been the best hitter in that region which has Crowder and Jefferson in it. He’s signed at Southeast Missouri and is consistently a good hitter.”
The Bombers have a pair of returning infielders, third-baseman Tony Sandier from Central Missouri and first-baseman Jess Cartner from Harris Stowe.
“Usually on a kid’s second year, he blossoms for us,” Kindle said. “I think it’s a combination of being more of a veteran instead of a rookie as well as the comfort level of playing here for a year.”
Cartner appeared in 35 games for Harris Stowe and hit .370 this season. Sandifer hit .366 for the Mules, led the team with 48 RBI and recorded a .973 fielding percentage.
The Bombers will get their power from Matt Jones, a utility player who hit .371 and led Hutchinson with 10 home runs this season.
“He’s going to be a guy that can hit the gaps quite often,” Kindle said. “I think he’s going to add a lot to our lineup.”
Alex Bee will be the opening day starter behind the plate. Bee managed a Kansas State staff with a 4.91 team ERA. He hit .250 for the Wildcats, driving in 10 runs. He also stole three bases.
“He hasn’t proved himself yet with the bat, but I think it’s there,” Kindle said.
The Bombers also have Daniel Arthor from Murray State College, another catcher who plays solid defense. They will also bring in Cody White from Cal-Bakersfield who can step in as a third catcher. Having White allows Kindle to give Bee and Arthor a rest from time to time later in the season, something he was not able to do with Cody Webster and Christian Bunch last season.
One of two Smith-Cotton graduates on the Bombers roster is infielder Jordan Dey. Returning to the field named after his father, Dey is expected to be a fixture in the middle of the Bombers’ lineup coming off a spring season in which he hit .313 for Region 16 champion Crowder and drove in 20 runs.
The other Smith-Cotton graduate is pitcher Dalton Christian, who played for Coffeyville Community College during the spring. In the Saturday-Sunday edition of the Democrat, we will take a look at Christian and the rest of the Bombers pitching staff.