Take one quick look at the early season statistics and it's not difficult to see why the O'Fallon Panthers were 12-0 as of Saturday and atop the Southwestern Conference.
Loaded with experienced players up and down its lineup, O'Fallon has relied on a pitching staff led by seniors Brayden Arnold and Hayden Juenger, and a defense that has committed just three errors.
With senior Jacob Dreyer headlining a balanced Panthers attack that is averaging more than eight runs per game, O'Fallon appears to be a team to keep an eye on this spring.
"We have a lot of guys back who have played a lot of baseball, and that really helps us out especially defensively," O'Fallon coach Jason Portz said. "We have a lot of guys who understand how to play the game.
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"We've been limited (because of the weather) of what we normally do in terms of situational practicing. But because we can throw nine guys who out there who have played and know what to in different situations, it puts us ahead of the game."
O'Fallon, which has played nine of its first 12 games on its home turf at Blazier Field, improved to 3-0 in the SWC with a 13-3 home win over Collinsville on Tuesday and a 17-0 at East St. Louis on Thursday at JJK Field. The Panthers also had a 7-0 win over Civic Memorial on Friday at the Bethalto Sports Complex.
Senior Adam Drewry worked the first three innings to get the win against Collinsville. Drewry, who has allowed just five hits and one earned run in 11 1/3 innings, is leading the team in ERA at 0.62. He has been a surprise for the Panthers, who went into the season with four quality pitchers in Juenger, Arnold, Jasyn Miller and Logan Boente.
Together, those four pitchers have accounted for eight of the Panthers' wins.
"We felt coming in to the season that those four pitchers were the ones we were going to lean on, and they've done a good job early in the season," Portz said. "Adam Drewry has really been a pleasant surprise the way he has pitched for us early on, and we still think we'll have some good results from Garrett Herring, who was the starting pitcher in our season opener."
Senior Nathan Martin is the leader of the Panthers' defense at second base and has teamed with junior shortstop Josh Gibson, along with center fielders Nick Boone and Caleb Shelton to give the Panthers solid play up the middle.
Martin and Gibson have also had presence at the plate. A starter since his freshman year, Gibson is hitting .351 with a home run and 10 RBIs, while Martin is hitting at a .300 clip with six RBIs.
"Nathan did a good job of playing second and third base last year and has really become our vocal leader in the infield," Portz said. "Josh (Gibson) is only a junior, but it seems like he's a senior because of the amount of baseball he has played for us the last three years.
"Offensively, it's been a case of the next man up. Arnold (.385, nine RBIs), Juenger (.469) and Quinn Lowery (.414) have all hit the ball well early, but without question it's been Jacob (Dreyer) who has stepped up really hit the ball well."
Dreyer is hitting .462 with two home runs and 20 RBIs.
OTHS 13, Collinsville 3
O'Fallon scored in every inning, including four runs in the bottom of the fifth to end the game early via the 10-run rule.
The Panthers got just nine hits — by nine different players — but also collected eight walks and stole nine bases in a game played in cold, dreary conditions.
Lowery (double) and Juenger (triple) had the only extra-base hits for OTHS. Lowery also scored two runs, had two RBIs and stole a base. Juenger scored a run and had an RBI.
Others collecting hits for the Panthers were Arnold, Boone, Drewry, Jacob Dreyer, Gibson, Shelton, and Jake Holan. Arnold also had two RBIs, two walks, a run scored, and a sacrifice. Boone had a run scored to go along with three stolen bases. Drewry also scored a run, knocked one in, and had a sacrifice. Dreyer scored a run and had a steal. Gibson scored two runs, had a walk, and swiped three bases. Holan had an RBI. Martin scored three runs after having walked three times, and he also had an RBI. Shelton added an RBI, a walk, and a stolen base.
The Panthers did all this in just four-plus innings against two Kahoks pitchers. Hunter Counton started the game for Collinsville, giving up eight runs (six earned) in three innings. Counton took the loss, giving up four hits, walking five and striking out two. Noah Scrum threw an inning-plus in relief, allowing five runs (two earned) on four hits and three free passes.
On the bump for OTHS, Drewry was awarded the win. He started and pitched the first three innings, giving up only a single earned run on three hits. He struck out three and walk no one. Juenger came in to finish the game, tossing the last two innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on three hit. Juenger also did not allow any free passes, and five of the six outs he accounted for were via strikeout.
For Collinsville, Devon Bovinett had a two-hit day (both singles) and scored a run. Also getting hits for the Kahoks were Counton, Carson Richardson (double, RBI), Hunter Schrage (RBI), and Scrum (double, RBI).
OTHS 17, East St. Louis 0
O'Fallon banged out 10 hits and accepted 13 walks in the shortened game.
Kyle Becker had the only multi-hit day for OTHS. He went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Dreyer had the only extra-base hit, a double. He also scored two runs and had three RBIs.
Others collecting hits for the Panthers were Juenger, Shelton, Dalonzo, Boone, Arnold, Lowery, and Martin.
Other Panthers who drove in runs were Dalonzo (three), Shelton (two), Arnold (two), Martin (two), Juenger (one) and Boone (one).
OTHS 7, CM 0
Against Civic Memorial, Matthew Albritton led a 13-hit attack for the Panthers, going 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs. Arnold also had two hits in four at bats, including a double and two RBIs. Juenger was 2-for-2 with two doubles, and Lowery had two singles and an RBI.
On the mound, three OTHS hurlers combined for the shutout. Arnold started and got the win, throwing five innings. He gave up only one hit and struck out six while walking no one. Drewry struck out the side in his one inning of work. Jaysn Miller also worked a clean frame.