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Warriors Insider: Top of the order is key

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By Andrew Harner

PATOKA – Some would probably call it an unattainable goal.

They would say he had his breakout season in the fall, and that he can’t repeat the numbers.

So it’s a good thing that Quinn Wadkins sets his own goals.

After being named the Egyptian-Illini Conference’s Most Valuable Player this fall by  hitting an astounding .464 and getting on base in 59.7 percent of his 67 plate appearances, the Patoka senior has set one standard for himself – have a better spring.

“He was joking that he was going to add a couple of hundred points to his batting average, which would be about a state record,” said coach Joey Eddy. “But he does want to do better than he did in the fall.”

The team’s leadoff hitter, Wadkins will be tasked with joining fellow senior Jake Orrell in starting many offensive rallies for the Warriors.

Orrell, a left-handed No. 2 hitter, will be aiming to hit .300 and have a .500 on-base percentage in his final season.

“It amazes me that he gets walked a dozen times just for being left-handed,” Eddy said. “He is a perfect No. 2 hitter, because he’s a lefty who is a good bunter and a good base runner.”

If those two are able to get on base in more than half of their plate appearances, it will benefit the team’s big run producers in the middle of the order – Johnnie Clift, Clinton Hood, Mark Rogers and Ryan Miller.

Clift had two home runs in the fall and led the team with 20 RBI and nine extra-base hits. With their speed, either Wadkins or Orrell would generally score from second base on any base hit.

“If you put those two in front of Johnnie in the three hole, he’ll almost always be hitting with someone on base,” Eddy said.

Wild Card

Many of players mentioned above are well-known among area players and coaches, but who on Eddy’s team does the small things that helps allow the Warriors to get their wins?

The first player that came to mind was Rogers, a senior outfielder who missed a big chunk of the fall season due to injury.

As an all-conference selection his junior season, Eddy is hoping Rogers will be able to fly under some teams’ radars and have a big offensive season.

Snubbed

In every all-conference vote, there is always someone deserving to be selected who ends up being the first player left out.

In the EIC this fall, that player was junior Ryan Miller.

The starting first baseman hit nearly .800 over the last several games of the fall season, and Eddy said that because of the all-conference snub, Miller has even more motivation entering the spring season.

Opening Day

Patoka’s season gets under way next Monday at Brownstown, and the home opener will be the following day against Christ Our Rock Lutheran.