In only its second year, the Hot Springs High School baseball team made tremendous strides. After a winless campaign in 2013, Coach Mike Tarrell’s charges chalked up four victories last season, against eight losses.
And although there are some holes to fill, Coach Tarrell has a solid group of returners with experience and a healthy influx of young players would appear to have the team on a solid foundation for the future.
Gone from last year’s team are six contributors, including Jake Oberpriller, Taran Weaver, Jackson Mossman, Jonas Hornuff and Zach Haden. But a trio of returning senior letter winners will provide a solid base upon which to build the upcoming season.
Leading the Bison this year will be 6-foot, 3-inch pitcher/first baseman Jacob Tarrell. Jacob Tarrell was an All-State Honorable mention last year, as he led the team at the plate with a .500 average.
Six-foot third-baseman Joe Zirkle returns to man the hot corner for Coach Tarrell. “Joe’s a good hitter and continues to improve on defense,” he said. And senior Chance Britain (5-11) will turn on the burners to chase down fly balls and cut off liners to the gap from his center field position.
Joining Zirkle in the infield are the double-play combination of sophomores Brice Harkless (shortstop) and second baseman Skyler Haden. Harkless will likely lead off for Coach Tarrell as well and could see some action on the pitching mound as well. Haden is good at second base, but can play many positions including taking the ball on the mound.
When Jacob Tarrell isn’t pitching, he will cover first base, but when he is on the mound, sophomore Zion Henderson could be a good fit at first base, using his height and length to cover a broad area.
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Wyatt Bloom, Devin Myer, Jacob Desersa and Michael Mileusnich will be among the group that will fill in the outfield spots and could see time at an infield position as well.
Henderson, Bloom and Myer all played last season, while Desersa and Mileusnich will be on the diamond for the first time this spring.
“We got hit heavily with graduation,” Coach Tarrell said, “but we do return seven players with two years or more experience and while we are young, we should improve down the road.”
Coach Tarrell sees defending state champion St. Thomas More as the favorite in the Hot Springs region, which also includes Bennett County and Lead/Deadwood.
“Our improvement last year was due, in large part, to the kids’ attitude and worth ethic, combined with the efforts of assistant coach Scott Haden,” Coach Tarrell said. “We are tickled to have 10 new players out this year, many of whom are talented middle schoolers. We hope to schedule some JV games while these kids cycle into help out the varsity as well.”
Coach Tarrell is also assisted by Andrew Tarrell.