2022 Baseball Outlook
The College of the Ozarks baseball team is coming off a 2021 campaign that saw them finish just one win shy of the NCCAA World Series Final Four. After building a tough schedule for his Bobcats, Coach Neale Richardson saw his team compete with and defeat some of the top teams in the country.That experience paid off down the stretch and provided the Bobcats with a solid run in the post season. The Bobcats will look to build on that success in 2022 and strive for an even deeper post-season run in May.
Entering his eighth season, Richardson has tallied a 171-157 record, including three 30-win seasons and numerous post-season appearances. In support of Richardson, seventh-year assistant Justin McMillin returns to develop the Bobcat pitching staff in 2022.
Richardson and McMillin had a busy off-season, recruiting players to continue the success of Bobcat Baseball. Hoping to help offset the loss of several key seniors from 2021, a host of underclassmen will have big shoes to fill. The 2021 senior class boasted two of the top three batting averages on the team and solid defense that the Bobcats will need to replace. Zach Ford led the team with his .357 batting average and Max Pulley, who was an NCCAA World Series All Tournament Team selection, finished hitting .328. Dawson Nimmo, Lincoln Rasmussen, and Sean Neal rounded out the senior class of Bobcats.
The Bobcats’ 2022 roster is comprised of 27 players, featuring two seniors and seven juniors who will provide leadership by example for six sophomores, and 12 new freshman recruits.
Senior, Trent Hyde, returns to the mound this season and hopes to capitalize on any opportunity he gets to finish strong as a Bobcat. In eight games on the mound in 2021, he recorded 16 strikeouts in 22 innings. He looks to build on those numbers in 2022. The Bobcat pitching staff has a host of juniors that will look to be leaders on the mound in 2022. Ryan Daggs returns to the bump again this season after getting the starting nod in seven games on the hill a year ago. In those games, he picked up a pair of wins with 39 strikeouts in 33.1 innings. Spencer Greene will also be a steady arm for the Bobcat rotation.Greene posted a 3-2 record in seven starts a year ago and posted a 4.20 ERA. After recovering from an injury and having a good fall, Greene looks to be a mainstay on the mound in 2022. Junior lefty, Riley Loyd, has taken big strides in showing his ability to contribute for the Bobcats. A solid off season has him ready to give the Bobcats quality innings this year. Colin Pyatt is another junior the Bobcats will look to as a quality arm. Pyatt pitched in 11 games in 2021, earning the start in four of those. He filled a variety of roles on the Bobcat staff and looks to continue posting innings wherever needed in 2022. Joe Lee was called upon last season to chew up innings out of the bullpen. Lee will likely be used in a similar role in 2022 while possibly mixing in starts where needed. Rounding out the junior hurlers is Devin McCullough. McCullough proved to be a valuable asset out of the bullpen in 2021. In 12 appearances, he threw 21.1 innings and struck out 14. McCullough looks to continue where he left off a year ago and be another reliable arm in the 2022 campaign. A pair of sophomore pitchers look to step into key roles for the Bobcats this season. Rhett Hill is coming back from an injury in 2021 to make some noise in the Bobcat rotation. He had a great start to his career in 2020 pitching a complete game early on. He finished with a 1-0 record and an ERA of 1.72. Sophomore Tyler Buchanan returns after appearing in 16 games a year ago and earning one start. Buchanan recorded 25 K’s in 34.1 innings of work and posted a 4.19 ERA. Buchanan will look to play even more of a key role in 2022. This year’s freshman class features a trio of promising arms for Richardson’s squad. Ben Meyer, Trey Riley, and Hunter Ridder, all look to contribute where needed as they adapt to the college game. As they progress, look for good things to come from this year’s newcomers.
Chuck Hill will continue to see time behind the plate in 2022. The junior is a noted hard worker with a great attitude. Willing to do whatever he can to help the team, Hill will likely see time in other positions as well. The Drury University transfer saw action in 28 games last season, his first as a Bobcat. He will be looked to as a solid back stop as well as bat in the 2022 line-up. Caleb Johnson spent most of his time in the middle infield last year but brings solid catching experience to the line-up. Johnson hit .279 and drove in 12 runs with a pair of home runs, four doubles, and two triples in 2021. Freshmen Liam Robertson and Lucas Marrs will look to glean from the experience of the two upperclassmen and learn the ins and outs of the college game.
Senior Chandler Tidwell has developed into a leader on and off the field. His lengthy frame lends itself well to the first-base position and he has worked hard to develop his craft. Tidwell hit .270 a year ago with 19 RBI’s, two homeruns, and seven doubles on his resume. He looks to boost those numbers as he finishes out his Bobcat career in 2022. Junior Ryan Daggs will continue to patrol the hot corner for the Bobcats when he is not providing innings on the mound. Daggs tied for the team lead in home runs a year ago and was the team leader in RBI’s with 24. The Bobcats will look to Daggs to continue building on his run production as a middle of the line-up bat. Junior Spencer Greene will be another two-way guy for the Bobcats as he spends time on the infield, as well as the outfield, when he is not on the bump. Green will provide a steady bat in the line-up as well.Hitting .298 and driving in 14 runs a year ago, Greene will look to be an offensive leader for the Bobcats, regardless of where he lands defensively. Sophomore Rhett Hill will also see double-duty action as he spends some time on the infield when not pitching. Hill saw action in 19 games in 2021 and picked up five RBI’s along the way. A healthy Hill could be a big factor for the Bobcats in the 2022 campaign. When not calling pitches behind the plate, Caleb Johnson will return to the middle infield as well. Sophomore Cadan Kauffman returns for his second season as a Bobcat. Appearing on the infield in 22 games a year ago, Kauffman gained valuable experience that will help him be a valuable contributor in 2022. The Bobcat infield will have a plethora of youth to foster along for the future. Zane Kelley returns for the Bobcats and will have four other freshmen looking to step up in 2022. Derek Skaggs (St. James, MO) will be a utility guy who will look for opportunities to contribute wherever needed. Titus Atkins comes in after a solid career at Seneca High School and will look to earn time at first base. Blake Hultgren (Willard, MO), with his work ethic and determination could see time in a middle infield spot where he will contribute both offensively and defensively. Local product, Colby Teaster (Hollister, MO) joins the Bobcats after a productive, All-State Honorable mention career as a Tiger.
The Bobcat outfield will have a new look in 2022. Spencer Greene and Chuck Hill will see time in the outfield as they fill somewhat of a utility role around their pitching and catching duties. Seth Stamps returns for the Bobcats after hitting .300 in 28 games last season. He will look to be more of an impact player this season. Freshman Isaiah Smith (Crane, MO), will be looked to for an immediate impact in the Bobcat outfield. Receiving post season honors multiple years at Crane, the All-State outfielder will look to use his speed to help on both offense and defense. Coming off a state championship at Marionville High School, Kyle Brattin will also look to secure innings roaming the outfield for the Bobcats.
“If we can stay healthy, with a more limited roster than we usually have, I like our chances this season; commented Coach Neale Richardson. Hopefully we can put together another solid run and punch another ticket to the world series.”
This year’s schedule will find the Bobcats at home for the majority of early season, they will hit the road for a long swing in the middle, then back home for a long stretch to finish out the year. Each year, Coach Richardson intentionally ramps up the Bobcats’ schedule, and this year is no exception. The 2022 schedule is designed to push the team toward continued improvement and prepare them for a deep post-season run. With strong NAIA teams like University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, and Columbia College on the schedule, the Bobcats will have plenty of opportunities to measure their progress.
Richardson states, “While our schedule is full of quality opponents, we will use the challenges to build competitiveness and growth. Our younger players will experience baseball at a high level and our upperclassmen will be challenged to compete at that level day in and day out.”
We are looking forward to a great season. Come out and join us at Coach Bob Smith Field on the College campus, as we cheer on our 2022 Baseball Bobcats!