Jeff Richardson is back as the HHS baseball team’s assistant coach.

While winning a district championship in high school baseball is a notable achievement, repeating as district champs is even better.

After taking the 2019 Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 3 District 10 title, the Houston High School squad has the opportunity to go back-to-back this year.

“We can do it if we play how we did to finish last year,” said head coach Brent Hall. “Great pitching, good defense and timely hitting.”

Now in his 23rd year at the helm of HHS baseball, Hall has compiled a record of 312-209 during that span and has coached two district championship teams. This year, the Tigers (16-10 in 2019) are loaded with experience and lost only one player to graduation from last season’s championship bunch. Houston’s roster includes four players who earned all-district honors last season and five who were all-conference selections.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”<p>Jersey no., name, grade, position</p> <p>15 – Cody Allen, jr., C</p> <p>24 – Alex Castleman, jr., IF</p> <p>10 – Ty Cooper, soph., OF/P</p> <p>13 – Xavier Fowler, soph., IF</p> <p>1 – Ty Franklin, jr., OF</p> <p>11 – Austin Goetz, fr., OF</p> <p>22 – Garyn Hall, fr., OF/IF/P</p> <p>19 – Sterling Jackson, sr., IF/P</p> <p>4 – Case Jones, soph., OF</p> <p>8 – Jacob Koch, sr., IF/P</p> <p>18 – Harold Lassiter, fr., OF</p> <p>2 – Rene Lathrom, jr., OF</p> <p>3 – Trenton Lathrom, fr., IF</p> <p>17 – Casey Merckling, fr., IF</p> <p>14 – Trevor Mitchell, jr., IF/P</p> <p>21 – Robbie Mortensen, sr., IF/OF</p> <p>5 – Matthew Pursifull, soph., OF</p> <p>6 – Wiley Sisco, soph., OF/C/P</p> <p>26 – Colten Stewart, fr., IF</p> <p>7 – Hunter Stilley, sr., IF/P</p> <p>28 – Kane VanHorn, fr., OF</p> <p>52 – Danny Venable, fr., IF/P</p> <p>29 – Devin Wallander, sr., OF/DH</p> <p>3 – Connor Wilson, sr., IF/P</p> <p>9 – Ryan Wolfe, fr., OF/C</p> <p>27 – Cayden Woodard, soph., OF</p> <p>Head coach: Brent Hall</p> <p>Assistant coach: Jeff Richardson</p>” id=”d163d46d-d170-4cc0-ac8c-56249f07abe8″ style-type=”bio” title=”2020 HHS BASEBALL ROSTER” type=”relcontent”}}

Hall said he expects the team’s strong points to once again be pitching and defense.

“Our pitching is what carried us last year,” he said. “We struggled at times swinging the bat, but that came around when we needed it. But I think it’s all going to better this year because we have almost everyone back.

“I would be shocked if our pitching isn’t as good or better than last year.”

Doing the bulk of the hurling will be a trio of seniors, including lefty Sterling Jackson (an all-state selection last year at the position), Jacob Koch and 6-foot-5 Connor Wilson. Hall is still pondering his plentiful outfield options, but figures his infield is set with junior Cody Allen catching, Jackson at first base, Koch at second and Wilson at shortstop (when they’re not on the mound), and junior Alex Castleman at third.

“Outfield is the question,” Hall said, “but we’ve got about six or seven guys there and we’re trying to find three. It’s the total opposite of last year when I had to scramble and invent outfielders. Now we’ve got guys we can choose from, so if what we start with isn’t working we can add or subtract until we find the right fit so we’re playing the way we need to when it counts.”

Hall (who played on a district championship team at Houston) has a shop building set up on his property equipped with a batting cage, turf and mound that’s open at all times for players to practice.

“The guys spend a lot of time working on their craft,” Hall said, “and they’re out there using it all the time – and have all year long. The good thing is they just do it; I don’t have to tell them what to do – I’ve been here long enough and the program has kind of taken its own shape and they just know what’s expected and they just all do it.”

The Tigers will get in some practice against other teams when they host a jamboree on Monday (March 16) including Cabool and Plato in which each team will play 4-inning games against the other two squads.

Jackson said the Tigers’ chemistry was a major aspect of the team’s success last year and will be again this year.

“I think we’re just as together as we were last year, if not more,” he said. “It just takes execution at the right times and willingness to listen and learn. The big key is to not feel the pressure from what happened last year but to see it as a chance to do more.”

Hall will be joined in the dugout again this season by assistant coach Jeff Richardson. He said he’s enjoying coaching a team that has a level of depth he hasn’t been accustomed to in recent years.

“We’ve got a lot of kids who can do a lot of things,” Hall said. “They’re a good bunch of guys; it’s really a family-oriented situation and I’m blessed to coach them.

“It’s kind of exciting. It should be a good year.”


March 16: Jamboree (H)

March 21: Van Buren Wood Bat Classic (A)

March 23: Houston Wood Bat Classic (H)

March 30: Seymour (A)

April 6: Plato tournament (A)

April 9: Liberty (A)

April 13: Cabool (A)

April 16: Ava (H)

April 17: Bourbon (H)

April 21: Willow Springs (H)

April 23: Salem (H)

April 27: Mountain Grove (A)

April 28: Summersville (H)

April 30: Licking (A)

May 2: Gainesville (H)

May 2: Stoutland (H)

May 5: Thayer (A)

May 8: Plato (A)

May 10: Cape Notre Dame (A)

May 12: Mansfield (H)

*(H) – home; (A) – away

Sterling pitches

An all-state selection in 2019, senior Sterling Jackson returns as the Tigers’ ace in the 2020 season.

Jersey no., name, grade, position

15 – Cody Allen, jr., C

24 – Alex Castleman, jr., IF

10 – Ty Cooper, soph., OF/P

13 – Xavier Fowler, soph., IF

1 – Ty Franklin, jr., OF

11 – Austin Goetz, fr., OF

22 – Garyn Hall, fr., OF/IF/P

19 – Sterling Jackson, sr., IF/P

4 – Case Jones, soph., OF

8 – Jacob Koch, sr., IF/P

18 – Harold Lassiter, fr., OF

2 – Rene Lathrom, jr., OF

3 – Trenton Lathrom, fr., IF

17 – Casey Merckling, fr., IF

14 – Trevor Mitchell, jr., IF/P

21 – Robbie Mortensen, sr., IF/OF

5 – Matthew Pursifull, soph., OF

6 – Wiley Sisco, soph., OF/C/P

26 – Colten Stewart, fr., IF

7 – Hunter Stilley, sr., IF/P

28 – Kane VanHorn, fr., OF

52 – Danny Venable, fr., IF/P

29 – Devin Wallander, sr., OF/DH

3 – Connor Wilson, sr., IF/P

9 – Ryan Wolfe, fr., OF/C

27 – Cayden Woodard, soph., OF

Head coach: Brent Hall

Assistant coach: Jeff Richardson

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply