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February 4, 2013With pitching and defense long being the recipe for success for the Cowley College baseball team, the Tigers will look to continue excelling at both during the 2013 season.
Cowley College head coach Dave Burroughs has amassed 983 wins as head coach of the Tigers. Entering his 26th season in charge of the baseball program, Burroughs knows it all starts with pitching.
With Burroughs' brother, Darren, in charge of the pitching staff, the Tigers are perennially near the top in the nation in earned run average each season.
Heading into the 2013 season, Cowley will need to make up for the loss of four starting pitchers from last year's team. Drew Palmer, Travis Higgs, Garrett Bane and Derek Fogel combined to go 29-13 with a combined earned run average under 3.00 during the 2012 season.
"Last year our pitching was the strength of the team and it can be again this year, but it is also unproven," Dave Burroughs said. "We lost four pretty good arms with experience."
Redshirt freshman Mark Meadors, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, will be a nice addition to the team.
"Meadors had a good fall and will pitch out of the starting rotation," Burroughs said.
Freshmen Jose Lopez from Jacksonville, FL, Zach Cantwell from Oologah, OK, and Seth Holman from Wichita, will be among several other pitchers that will vie for an opportunity to pitch in the starting rotation. Holman helped pitch Bishop Carroll High School to the Class 5A state title as a senior.
Cowley returns pitchers Brent Burroughs (2.70 ERA), Lane Trudo (2.62 ERA) and Bryan McClellan (3.80 ERA), who combined to throw 75 innings out of the Tiger bullpen.
"The pitching staff is probably as wide open as it has ever been," Burroughs said.
Highlighting Tiger returnees on offense is first baseman Mike Parker, who was the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division Freshman of the Year last season as he led the team in batting (.426), home runs (three), doubles (15) and runs batted in (37).
"Mike makes everybody else a better player," Burroughs said.
Along with Parker, Cowley returns sophomore rightfielder Tyler Rolland (.300 average, 26 RBI's), third baseman Ethan Elroy (.240 average, 24 RBI's), infielder Chris Roman (.277 average, 14 runs scored) and catcher Tyler Munger, who batted .364 in 44 at bats as a freshman.
Infielder Blake Burroughs and right-handed pitcher Ty Rowe also return to the team.
Freshman second baseman Matt Anderson, a transfer from Illinois State University, and Dylan Delso, a freshman catcher that transferred to Cowley from Arizona State University, will be solid additions to the squad.
Jon Davis, a sophomore middle infielder that transferred to Cowley from Seminole Junior College, and freshman pitchers Zach Pearson and Juan Guerra are other mid-year additions to the team.
Three other freshmen from Wichita that are expected to make an immediate impact are, centerfielder A.J. Shaw, shortstop Ryan McBroom, and third baseman J.C. Sturgeon. The trio had solid high school careers and were teammates at Maize High School.
"I think we will be better offensively than we were a year ago, but that's not a real bold statement considering some of the trouble we had scoring runs last year," Burroughs said.
Freshman outfielders Zack Mills from Broken Arrow, OK, and Brett Beasley from Oklahoma City, OK, will join catcher Gage Grant as other first year players looking to make an impact.
Other freshmen that will be in the hunt for playing time are, Tyler Day from Kansas City, KS, Tanner Armfield from Arkansas City, Garrett Hoover from Clearwater, Cory Linn from Moore, OK, Alex Graham from Broken Arrow, OK, and Levi Skinner from Springfield, MO.
"The kids have worked their tails off," Burroughs said. "We are unproven but have got talent. It's a process, we will see what we have got this spring."
Last season, the Tigers finished in a tie for second in the Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division, one-game away from defending their conference title. Cowley finished with a record of 33-26. The 33 wins were the team's fewest since the 1991 season.
Cowley will open the season at home when they face Redlands Community College at 2 p.m. Friday, February 8. The Tigers will play 14 games against Oklahoma schools and another three against Texas schools to go along with its always-tough conference slate.
"I am excited to get the season started," Burroughs said. "Our season is a journey. We may start the season one way but finish it another."