Spartans' Coon dominates on the mound

Spartans' Coon dominates on the mound

ST. JOSEPH-OGDEN — Had the ball flown out of the yard or deep into the outfield a time or two as he stood on the mound on Wednesday, St. Joseph-Ogden pitcher Mason Coon wouldn’t have been surprised.

After all, Centennial’s lineup is packed with power hitters, including Coon’s future Illinois-Springfield teammate Chris Monroe, Illinois commit Kellen Sarver and Jordan Williams, who may play baseball in addition to football next year at Ball State.

“Coming in, I was like, ‘I’ve got to stay outside, so they don’t keep going yard off me,’ ” Coon said.

That didn’t happen.

In fact, the Chargers barely touched Coon in a 6-1 win, in which the senior allowed four hits and struck out 13 over 5 1/3 innings.

“I guess I was just dealing,” Coon said. “I didn’t feel great in warmups, but I just started hitting my spots. I wasn’t really overpowering them.”

Coon’s early-season performance wasn’t necessarily a surprise. At least not compared to St. Joseph-Ogden’s start to the season as a whole.

After falling in the state championship game last season, the Spartans lost seven starters, including All-Area first team pitchers Dalton Parker and Colton Carr. Coach Josh Haley knew he would have talent up and down his lineup this season, he just didn’t know how it would fit together.

“We’ve got a lot of new faces out there. We’re playing two freshmen (Drew Coursey and Jaden Miller) right now, and that’s different,” Haley said. “Did we know we had (another strong team)? Yeah, that’s our expectation. But it was going to be interesting to see how it blended. It’s blending like it should.”

As Coon dealt on Wednesday, his offense backed him up. Brant Hoveln drove in Austin Cain in the first inning, and Cain drove in Tegan Poole during a two-run second. Colton Hale drove in two more runs late, and Isaiah Jackson drove in the lone Centennial run in the sixth.

Centennial came into the season with similarly large expectations with a roster light on experience beyond its top few big hitters. After facing three prospective Division I pitchers plus Coon early in the season, they’re 0-4. They struck out 16 times against the Spartans’ three pitchers.

“We’ve got to go back to the basics and start over,” coach Ryan Remole said. “Just a lot, a lot of batting practice. We’ve got to learn how to hit. We’ve got some guys who just didn’t look good at the plate. You can’t strike out 16 times.”

The Spartans seem well on their way to another strong season. And after a quick start, they still see plenty of room to grow.

“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Hale said. “I still think we’re not even close to where we should be. We have a lot of parts still moving, and everyone’s trying to get settled in and comfortable, get the confidence up. … Last year’s team was amazing, and this year’s team is going to be just as good. We have the same goals, the same expectation.”